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Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge

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4.16  ·  Rating details ·  1,380 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Conjectures and Refutations is one of Karl Popper's most wide-ranging and popular works, notable not only for its acute insight into the way scientific knowledge grows, but also for applying those insights to politics and to history. It provides one of the clearest and most accessible statements of the fundamental idea that guided his work: not only our knowledge, but our ...more
Paperback, 582 pages
Published August 11th 2002 by Routledge (first published 1963)
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Anahita Sharma
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In my final years of high-school, I encountered Popper's theory of the process of 'Conjectures and Refutations' when studying the epistemology of science, and subsequently referenced his work in an essay - yet my understanding of it at the time was highly superficial.

When writing my final year dissertation at university, in Biology, I found myself mining through scientific literature and trying to place the experiment in its wider context. I was confronted with an immense and initially overwhelm
...more
Philippe Malzieu
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Popper is a point of required passage for all those which are interested in sciences. But the originality is that the method Popper bracket with other sectors and particularly with the policy.
Classically we defined a science in a positive way. we choose an hypothesis, we accumulated experiments to check the veracity of its. There a completely opposite way is taken. We will imagine experiments to prove that this théory is false.
For exemple, the proposal is “all the swans are white”. If I adopt an
...more
Omar nagib
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
what is the book all about?

it discusses epistemology(philosophy of knowledge), philosophy of science, logic, philosophy of language and politics.

every article is an independant article, which can be read separately.

the book's title "conjectures and refutations" is borrowed from one of the articles within this book, it stands for popper's philosophy of science and how science procedures, science stars from problems but not observations, a scientist propose a myth or conjecture or hypothesis from
...more
Paul
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is in places an extremely engaging and intriguing book. The history of philosophy Popper describes in the early chapters is fascinating, as is his chapter 15 demolishing Hegelian and Marxist dialectic; between Gilson and Popper I have a feeling of much stronger grip of the history of philosophy (where fortunately Gilson is strong where Popper is weak, i.e., medieval philosophy).

Let me quote from that chapter 15 a sentence out of a passage that I might take as a banner for the intellectual c
...more
Elliott Bignell
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here endeth my reading of Popper's quartet of book-scale works. This volume covers ground from the other three, primarily "The Logic of Scientific Enquiry", but also elements of "The Open Society (...)" It takes the form of a collection of presentation texts and papers discussing the earlier material, each of which is therefore a nice evening's read in its own right and can be taken independent of the rest.

It is not without reason that Popper is widely admired as the most important philosopher o
...more
Jooseppi
This volume contains much of Popper's more approachable material in the form of lectures and writings intended for a more general audience. While good for clarity, this does mean a lot of repetition and unnecessarily inexact prose.
The best part of this volume - though helplessly outdated and falsified by further research in probability theory and mathematical logic - are the addenda. The worst are easily the parts which have anything to do with the history of philosophy, which he butchers even
...more
Helisa Taban
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book has given me a lot to think about. The most important lesson that I got from it is that a good scientific theory is very specific and seeks falsification. The problem with Freudian science, astrology, and other such broad theories is that they are vague and can be applied to almost everything. Everything can be interpreted with a pseudoscientific lens. Once someone believes in Marx or Freud, it is easy to view all human interactions as manipulated by bourgeois propaganda, or simply sym ...more
Lord_Humungus
May 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: interested in science and philosophy
Recommended to Lord_Humungus by: David Deutsch
Review in English (not my mother tongue) and Spanish (below).

A set of essays on epistemology that can be read independently. When it came to understanding it, I had the advantage of having read a disciple of his, David Deutsch, who writes even more clearly. Actually, if you have already read a book by Deutsch, this book does not bring so many new important things.
I liked it a lot, but the part that interested me the most, that talks about the concepts of "probability", "verisimilitude", "empiric
...more
Brian
Apr 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Brilliant writer - very dense, intellectually complicated, and takes a long time to read. But if you're looking for a book that makes you feel smarter and examine life more critically and logically, then this book will help you along that path. Popper's primary argument is that science is not developed through carefully thought-out hypotheses, but by essentially random attempts at figuring things out (conjectures) and then attempts that prove them wrong (refutations).

He also argues that, basical
...more
Gnuehc Ecnerwal
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
One of the most challenging ideas from this book is to convince the general society to acknowledge that no amount of 'confirmative evidence' can validate a theory to the same extend as how one counter-example could invalidate a theory once and for all. We are socially conditioned not to rock the boat (argue and criticize), to trust the viewpoints of experts/elders/authority, and we are told that we have to prove our case with evidence or testimony from a trust-worthy source. Popper proposed that ...more
Jim Mehnet
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-books-read
The first three essays are focused on what differentiates science from pseudo-science. Loved them. They have provided me with good set of tools to filter BS from science and set me on a new line of inquiry, the philosophy of science. Popper’s ideas on the strengths of demarcation, falsifiability, and the inadequacies of induction and confirmation are very convincing. As a non-philosopher I found some of the other essays a bit of a mixed bag, but those first three essays were great.
Mirek Kukla
Jan 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Popper is brilliant. He's a terrific writer - his thoughts are original, yet is prose is clear and straightforward. With the exception of one or two boring essays, this collection is the shit. Check it out
David Withun
Apr 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
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Xander
Oct 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Conjectures and Refutations (1963) is Karl Popper's extension of his original work The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1934; English version published in 1956). It is a collection of philosophical essays and adresses for audiences or the radio. In a sense, this book is nothing new under the sun, if you already know Popper's philosophy of science. This doesn't mean that it isn't interesting material, but it lacks the originality and impressiveness of Popper's first work.

So what is interesting abou
...more
Parker
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Well damn I've been hoping to read something like this for awhile. Best I've read this year or longer. I've had the foggy intuition that obtaining true knowledge is both a myth and very important, but had never read Popper's explaination of why. True scientific knowledge can only be falsified by observation, not derived from it. And the implications of this explain so much about today...
The (Greek tradition) value science for us informative content and for it's ability to free our mind from old
...more
Mark Scott
Karl Popper was a rationalist of two phrases: trial and error and give and take. Popper liked argument; or, he liked to argue. “A rationalist, as I use the word, is a man who attempts to reach decisions by argument and perhaps, in certain cases, by compromise, rather than by violence. He is a man who would rather be unsuccessful in convincing another man by argument than successful in crushing him by force, by intimidation and threats, or even by persuasive propaganda” (Con and Ref, 356).

Popper
...more
eggcorn
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
still informative and fun, if dated
Ari
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Karl Popper is one of the leading figures in the 20th-century philosophy of science. He is primarily known for his emphasis on the concept of "falsification." The popular understanding of Popper goes something like this: Science is good, science is about falsification, and if it can't be falsified, it's nonsense. This "straw-Popperism" is open to a number of objections, advanced forcefully by e.g. Kuhn.

As it happens, Popper's thought is much more sensible and subtle than I had realized. He's per
...more
Tom
Apr 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a collection of papers/lectures/essays that touches on most of the major philosophical ideas of Popper's at this stage in his career. If a person has read his previous works, this will almost seem like a review of many of his previously stated positions. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. He works hard to clarify all his ideas even more, or to present them from a new perspective, which is very much appreciated as a major help in digesting his occasionally difficult and technical tho ...more
Riley Haas
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
"The biggest problem with Popper is that he is far from the greatest writer ever. I find I am in general agreement with many of his ideas, but he does not make it easy. He repeats himself. He is overly vague. When he restates himself, he can be ever more vague sometimes. There is little flow to his writing.
The major exception to this is “Self-Reference and Meaning in Ordinary Language,” an imitation Socratic dialogue disputing Wittgenstein at all. It is far and away the best written thing in th
...more
Andrew
Karl Popper is one of those philosophers for whom the reading is more a direct challenge to my own beliefs than an attempt to refine my current way of thinking. I should start by saying that Conjectures and Refutations is an uncommonly well-written book, and should if nothing else serve as a style guide for how to write engaging philosophy. And I should add that Popper's thesis of falsification, while it needed and continues to need refinement to give an accurate portrayal of what scientific kno ...more
Edna
Jul 21, 2019 rated it liked it
I just finished it for the same week and i really enjoyed it. I loved how at first the story lines didn't seem to have anything to do with each other but slowly details were revealed to show how they are all connected.
Bill Adams
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I actually read this twice... took a bit to really sink in. I was introduced to Popper by reading David Deutsch. His presentation of the scientific method in terms of conjectures and criticism is foundational to any understanding of critical thinking. One of the greatest insights of the book is that starting points aren't terribly important. You can start with the most outrageous mythology, and as long as you subject it to proper criticism, you can make progress toward eliminating error and gett ...more
nanto
Jun 02, 2009 added it
Review ini biang, "A hypothesis cannot be proved with a thousand supporting examples, but can be disproved by a single contrary example. Those areas that do not work like this (psychology, etc.) are not sciences but pseudo-sciences."

Ada nuansa rivalitas metodologis antara science dan non-science kah? he he he menggelitik ke-Feyerabend-an saya.
...more
Dax
Dec 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing
The best philosophical treatise I've read. Before reading it, I had always been under the assumption that Pooper was "boring" at best. But upon reading, I realize he's only "boring" because he's "right".
Timothy
Sep 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Tough Reading. His entire idea makes logical sense upon reflection. A must read for anyone interested in understanding the philosophy of science. Together with The logic of Scientific Discovery, both are excellent and very tough read.
Mafu Goonbag
Dec 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Admittedly I only read a few of the essays at the start, but enjoyable reading. His writing style is not so difficult as many philosophy texts with each chapter (after intro) being potentially stand alone and written in the style of a lecturer orating for a class.
Berry Muhl
Nov 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating and very challenging. If you haven't read his Logic of Scientific Discovery, you should read that one first, as he refers back to it frequently. Consider this a major extension of that previous work.
William P
Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to understand social science
Recommended to William P by: Bernard Jump
For anyone who wants to understand the scientific method or simply appreciates excellent exposition will enjoy Popper's essays. Like so many others, his principles are simple, and often misquoted or misused. Reading his words for yourself is the only way.
Drinkdrawers
The later stuff is clearer than the earlier. His ideas about violence and reason and truth are very similar to some of my own. I should consider adjusting some of my thinking toward his. I wish he were around today to argue with.
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Sir Karl Raimund Popper, FRS, rose from a modest background as an assistant cabinet maker and school teacher to become one of the most influential theorists and leading philosophers. Popper commanded international audiences and conversation with him was an intellectual adventure—even if a little rough—animated by a myriad of philosophical problems. He contributed to a field of thought encompassing ...more

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Kate Stayman-London has watched the reality dating show The Bachelor (and its eventual Bachelorette spin-off) since it first started airing in 2002...
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“The history of science, like the history of all human ideas, is a history of irresponsible dreams, of obstinacy, and of error. But science is one of the very few human activities — perhaps the only one — in which errors are systematically criticized and fairly often, in time, corrected. This is why we can say that, in science, we often learn from our mistakes, and why we can speak clearly and sensibly about making progress there.” 39 likes
“The war of ideas is a Greek invention. It is one of the most important inventions ever made. Indeed, the possibility of fighting with with words and ideas instead of fighting with swords is the very basis of our civilization, and especially of all its legal and parliamentary institutions.” 24 likes
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