How Accuracy-Of-Prediction may not be Adequate Proof.

What modern people may be tempted to think, is that if a hypothesis exists, which predicts real-world events with great precision, this hypothesis must also be a true statement, of how the real world operates. And I’d like to point out a Historic example, where this was not the case. That example, was the Ptolemaic system of Astronomy.

This system of Astronomy taught, since thousands of years, that the stars in the nighttime sky are attached to rotating shells, which are somehow pinned to the Earth’s axis, as well as being hinged to each other. Thereby, certain stars now known as fixed stars, would exist as belonging to one such shell, while other stars which are now known as planets of our own Solar System, exist as belonging to an additional shell, which is rotating around the first shell, I described, along an additional axis.

What modern people may not see, is that this system was able to predict with extreme precision, where each planet or star was going to appear, at any point in time, which in turn was seen as adequate proof, that the system was ‘true’.

In fact, when Nikolaus Copernicus suggested that the planets, including the Earth, in fact orbit our Sun, his model had a weakness: The Copernican hypothesis suggested circular orbits. And what this did, was to produce inaccuracies, with respect to the observable positions of each planet, over which the Ptolemaic system was far more accurate.

This weakness was only corrected by Johannes Kepler, who discovered that the orbits of the planets are elliptical. Making these orbits elliptical, made them consistent both with Newtonian Physics and Newtonian Gravity, as well as with the observable positions of planets in the nighttime sky.

And so a precedence exists, where a system of ideas was presented, which was extremely accurate in its numerical predictions, but which was ultimately false. I strongly suspect that today’s notions of Quantum Mechanics are a repeat of that.

Dirk