At the Fringes of Empirical Scientific Method

A nebula with caption relevant to Tier Zero, Vol I of the Knolan Cycle

In Praise of Science

If you’re like me, you’re fascinated by the (at times) overpowering intellectual reach of the men and women working at the scientific frontiers. How could we not be? If you’ve looked at images of the cosmos taken from the Webb Space Telescope or listened almost most spellbound to the pioneers working with dark matter and entangled particulate behavior to mention just three, you know what I mean. That said, I’m going to wax a bit contrary, here. But first let me frame how/why I’m going to push back, by defining with just a whisker more precision what I mean by Empirical Scientific Method.

Empirical Evidence, Empirical Analysis & the Scientific Process

Empirical analysis is an evidence-based approach to the study and interpretation of information. Empirical evidence is information that can be gathered from experience or by the five senses. In a scientific context, it is called empirical research. Empirical analysis requires evidence to prove any theory. An empirical approach gathers observable data and seeks to set up a repeatable process to produce verifiable results…and variants to those results by changing one variable at a time. Empirical analysis often requires statistical analysis to support a claim.

And as you would guess from my enthusiasm for so much of the knowledge gained through the empirical scientific process, I’m absolutely a fan. The methodology and rigor of the scientific inquiry process is the best way we know to extract our best view of the Universe. But if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve noticed what I have. The more we learn through the scientific method, the broader the gulf between what we think we know and what we realize we don’t know becomes. The other thing we notice is that there are some paradoxes that science simply can’t explain.

The Frontier Between Empiricism and Creativity

I should have added to my last sentence that these apparent paradoxes may be resolved later by continued advances in the scientific method. Note that I said may. One of Quantum Mechanics’ long standing tenets is the ability  of a particle being in two places at once, but only being observable in one at a time. A favorite explanation until recently was gravity.

Gravity, the theory suggested, which exists “outside” quantum theory cannot be affected for long by it, hence it collapses, interrupting our ability to observe the particle in two places at once. But recent developments have called that explanation into question, and (as the article in Science suggests) the explanation may simply elude us. As Derakhshashani of Rutgers University is said to have quipped, “One could reasonably argue that…the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.” Referring to resolving the apparent paradox. One can imagine scientists’ collective disappointment.

Enter the Paradox

I must cop before continuing that I do not have sufficient mathematical acumen to tackle quantum physics at the level necessary to make sense of it in a meaningful way, never mind explain it. For those who know me well, to a man or woman they recognize that I’m more inclined to metaphysical speculation.

To me, the philosophical implications of the unknown are far more compelling to me, insofar as they relate directly to how we as humans should live and order our lives—an issue far more immediate and germane than the sub-atomic particulate behavior. At least until someone unravels the contradiction sufficiently to explain it.

In the Knolan Cycle, one of my favorite characters is Lysia, a Knolan Waykeeper and Mentor to our protagonist Marty Tellus who will later become Hāthar.  As Lysia explains in introducing him to the Paradox:

“…in the Paradox, we are not constrained by the physical world. We can abandon most of those constraints at will. In time, you will learn to set aside those conventions. But first you must suspend expectations grounded in your familiar experience. It will take practice.

“The Universe favors perceptions offering the best chance of survival in the physical world. What we think of as ‘reality.’ We experience what we have learned  to interpret by our familiar physical senses. But those conventions can be as limiting as our prehistoric superstitions.”

Excerpted from Tier Zero, Vol. I of the Knolan Cycle, page 64, edition 1.

My Caveat Emptor

The foregoing is not an attempt to devalue science, or suggest it will ever be anything other than central to our understanding of what “reality” is—to whatever extent reality is even knowable. It may well be that science will eventually run into itself, discovering a paradoxical junction of science and what almost seems mystical.

In the same way events and observers interact, might science and philosophy somehow be flipsides of the same coin? That, at least, is the central position of the Knolan Way, it’s Oracle and (as nearly as their science can tell) the Universal Consciousness. There’s nothing passive or mystical about it. At the same time, I caution you against trying to get a Knolan Waykeeper to explain it. Or at the very least, may I suggest you have a bottle of aspirin close at hand? You may need it.

Menari nêt Wai sum. (May your Way be smooth).


Dirk's path to authorship wasn't quite accidental, but almost. Through two previous careers, first as a retired Marine officer and later as a corporate trainer, he started more stories than he finished. But in the backwash of the 2008 financial meltdown, Dirk's employer filed for Chapter 11 protection. Cordially invited to leave and not return, he found himself out of work and excuses. Since then Dirk has finished six titles and has two works in progress. He currently lives in Laguna Niguel with his wife, two pschotic cats and a fourteen year old Ball Python named Corona.

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Serena

    This post made me think. It really is true, isn’t it? There’s what we know, what we think we know then whole bunch of other stuff we have no idea even what the questions are, never mind the answers.

    1. Dirk

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Serena. I agree.

  2. Chelsey Craybill

    Meeting the Knolans is like looking into a mirror. I liked that idea. I hope, when it happens it’s something like that!

    1. Dirk

      Hi Chelsey. Welcome back. Yeah…me too. Happy Thanksgiving!

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