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Comment author: AnonymousAutodidact 10 March 2011 03:14:25AM 3 points [-]

I will do my best, this falls on my vacation.

Comment author: nshepperd 10 March 2011 02:45:42AM 10 points [-]

The difference between electrons and elan vital is that the former come with equations that let you predict things. If you said "electricity is electrons" that would be a curiosity-stopper, but if you said "electricity is electrons, and by the way they obey the Lorentz force equation [F = ...] and Maxwell's laws [del E = ...]" that would be an explanation.

I wouldn't call the luminiferous aether a curiosity-stopper, because it was an actual theory that did make predictions (it was essentially falsified in one experiment).

Comment author: AnonymousAutodidact 10 March 2011 03:02:21AM 7 points [-]

The luminiferous aether is also a brilliant example of how rationalists should and have formed hypotheses based on a combination of a priori logic, a hypothetical non-self-contradicting set of assumptions, and empirical evidence.

The expected statistical inference you could expect to get in which a theory is valid is very important to hypothesis formation.

A theoretical paradigm such as aether physics in all possible metalogical realities would be expected to be true more often than not, given what was known at the time.

At the time the theory was extremely apt in describing empirically-verifiable experiments. That's exactly why I'm glad I was taught about the luminiferous aether from a very young age even though it is not a part of current contemporary physics.

With respect to scientific pedagogy I would therefore say it is very important that we continue to teach students about the history of scientific paradigms, even those paradigms since lost to progress.