What is Philosophy
What is Philosophy
of Science
What is Verification
and Falsification
about Science
Science according to
Scientific method
Paradigm and
paradigm shift
Karl Popper -
Logic and status
Consequences of Popper's theses
Alternative Science
Chalmers: What is this
thing called Science?
Epistemology -
induction deduction

Falsification in reality

Consequences of Popper's statements

Karl Popper expressed his views about hypotheses in his book "The Logic of Scientific Discovery". He claimed that verifications do not exist and that knowledge, which he equals with science, consists of hypotheses (= statements) that should be possible to falsify.

As falsification of a statement is logically equivalent to verification of the negation of the statement, Popper's argumentation is obviously logically erroneous. Both verification, which Popper denies, and falsification are founded on verification.

In spite of logical errors, arguments may still be interesting when compared to our perceived reality. If, on the other hand, a logically erroneous argumentation leads to absurd consequences, one must conclude that the content is not that interesting.



Popper: A falsified fantasy is scientific

An arbitrary statement is, according to the criteria of Popper, scientific if it is falsifiable. A reasonable proposition is that details in stories told by fiction writers are possible to falsify, not the least when the author him or herself has stated that the story is imagined. Stories created by fiction writers are hence scientific according to the definition by Popper.

Lord of the Rings

Should the epic novel Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien according to Popper's theses be regarded as scientific?

It is quite clear that details in the story are falsifiable - Tolkien himself has claimed that he made them up. Hence the story is, according to Popper, scientific.

the ring

image: Wikipedia

Will a falsified hypothesis become non-scientific?  

Popper: A hypothesis becomes scientific when falsified

An arbitrary statement is according to Popper, scientific if it is falsifiable. A reasonable proposition is that when something actually is falsified it was also falsifiable, which leads to that a statement that has been proved to be erroneous, according to Popper should be regarded as scientific.

A part of Popper's argumentation centers on that his criterion "falsification" should constitute a border between science and e.g. religion. Followers of Popper use the word "demarcation". But is this argumentation reasonable? Two examples, which Popper himself included in his discussions, are given below: Religion and astrology.

Stories of creation

Within many religions there can be found a story of creation with the purpose to explain how man was created. For example the Jewish-Christian-Muslim and Norse religions claim that man was created directly through intervention of gods.

A vast number of observations and DNA sequences very strongly indicate that animals and plants have developed through evolution.

If we believe in evolution we can conclude that for example the story about Adam and Eve in the Paradise is incorrect. It is falsified.

According to Popper's theories, where falsifiability is claimed to define whether a statement is scientific or not, this implies that the Jewish-Christian-Muslim and Norse religious stories of creation today should be regarded as scientific evidence.


Within astrology, it is claimed that the positions of stars and planets at the moment of birth, influence our personal character. Is this a scientific claim?


Popper claimed that astrology is not a scientific area. In the book "Conjectures and Refutations", 4th ed., 1985, p. 37, he writes:

"Astrology did not pass the test. Astrologers were greatly impressed, and misled, by what they believed to be confirming evidence - so much so that they were quite unimpressed by any unfavorable evidence."

It is possible to perform scientific studies within astrology

We can perform an analysis of the Swedish population using id-numbers which reveal day of birth. The occupations of the population can also be analyzed from taxation data. Time of birth and occupations may then be tested against planet positions.


An example of statistical testing of astrological claims can be found in the book Gauquelin, M., "Astrology and Science", Mayflower books, 1972, s. 132. The book may provide inspiration for possibilities for scientific methods within astrology.

Many details within astrology may hence be shown to be erroneous. At the same moment they are falsified, they become scientific according to the theories of Karl Popper.

According to Popper's theories, where falsifiability is claimed to define whether a statement is scientific or not, this implies that significant parts of astrology today should be regarded as scientific evidence.

Will a falsified hypothesis become non-scientific?  


Popper claimed a central role for falsifiability in discrimination between science and non-science. His argumentation was illogical, as discussed here.

The absurd results above, i.e. that proven erroneous hypotheses according to Popper's theses should be regarded as scientific, demonstrate that the theses are not useful when they meet our perceived reality.


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