Lorentz Center - Error in the Sciences from 24 Oct 2011 through 28 Oct 2011
  Current Workshop  |   Overview   Back  |   Home   |   Search   |     

    Error in the Sciences
    from 24 Oct 2011 through 28 Oct 2011


Preliminary Program



Monday 24 October 2011



[I] Historical and Philosophical Perspectives on Error in Science

Traditionally history and philosophy of science has been concerned with practices that claim to attain (scientific) knowledge. Although always presents, error as an object of inquiry has been neglected, considered unproductive. This attitude is now changing. There is a growing interest in the concept of error, in its ramifications, and in the wider meaning of uncertainty. Day 1 will have two distinct parts: an introductory session to open the workshop and a focused discussion on handling error in experimentation. The introductory talk will map the problem of error in a historical and philosophical context. Different perspectives and topics will be presented in an overview: error in experimentation, error as historiographical problem, error statistics, and the like. A plenary session will follow in which contributors will present themselves with very short prepared statements of their contributions and the goals of the workshop will be discussed. The workshop will then continue with a session on error in experimentation. Like any goal-oriented procedure, experiment is subject to many kinds of error. They have a variety of features, depending on the particulars of their sources. The identification of error, its source, its context, and its treatment shed light on practices and epistemic claims. Understanding an error amounts, inter alia, to uncovering the knowledge generating features of the system involved—the very features that are the object of study of the historian-philosopher when it comes to evolving systems in scientific practice.


09:00 – 10.00           Welcome and Coffee

10:00 – 10:15           Introduction by the manager of Lorentz Center Mieke Schutte

10:15 – 11.15           Marcel Boumans, Giora Hon, and Arthur Petersen: Introduction

                                    to the workshop / different framings of what we expect from it

11:15 – 11:45           Coffee/tea break

11:45 – 12:30            Plenary session, Giora Hon (Chair of the Day): Formulating

questions and aims for the workshop.                


12:30 – 14:00           Lunchbreak @ Gorlaeus Restaurant


[II] Error and the Method of Experimentation

(5 min. intro, 15 min. commentary and 25 min open discussion per paper)

14:00 – 15:30           Jutta Schickore: The concept of error in experimental reports - Robert Boyle and Felice Fontana on contingencies, circumstances, error, and vipers

Commentator: James McAllister

Bart Karstens: Conceptualization of error in historiography of science: two main approaches and their shortcomings

Commentator: Eran Tal



15:30 – 16:00           Coffee/tea break

16:00 – 17:30           Kent Staley: Experimental Knowledge in the Face of Theoretical Error

Commentator: Aris Spanos

Jacob Stegenga: Pseudorobustness

Commentator: Jutta Schickore


17:30 – 19:00           Wine and Cheese welcoming party




Tuesday 25 October 2011



Measurement Errors

Measurement results are generally not considered as reports directly about the state of the object under measurement, but on our knowledge about this state. Measurement shifted from a truth-seeking process to a model-based one in which the quality of the measurement is assessed by pragmatic aims. As a result of the epistemological shift, the quality of measurement is not reported in terms of accuracy, an expression of closeness to the true value, but in terms of uncertainty. This has also had implications on calibration strategies: instead of expecting that reference values are true they are required only to be traceable. On Day 2 these shifts will be discussed by focusing on key issues: the shift from error to uncertainty, the shift from accuracy assessment to quality assessment and the shift from standards as prototypes to standards as instrumental set-ups.


09:15 – 09.30            Marcel Boumans (Chair of the Day): Introduction to today’s topic

09:30 – 10:30            Luca Mari: The ‘error approach’ and the ‘uncertainty approach’: are they incompatible?

                                    Commentator: Joel Katzav

10:30 – 11:00            Coffee/tea break

11:00 – 12:00           Eran Tal: Systematic Error and the Problem of Quantity Individuation

Commentator: Luca Mari


12:00 – 13:30            Lunchbreak @ Gorlaeus Restaurant


13:30 – 14:30           Jonathan Barzilai: The Challenge of Foundational Errors in Economic and Game Theory

Commentator: Lex van Gunsteren

14:30 – 15:30            Plenary discussion led by the Chair of the Day

15:30 – 16:00            Coffee/tea break

16:00 – 17:30            Discussions in sub-groups



Wednesday 26 October 2011


Communicating Uncertainties

In science the need to communicate with decision makers about the uncertainties in the relevant models has become acute. Interdisciplinary work has been done in this domain to arrive at commonly agreed upon typologies of uncertainty. This includes efforts to widen the concept of reliability, since it is often not possible to establish the accuracy of the results of simulations or to quantitatively assess the impacts of different sources of uncertainty. On Day 3 recourse will be made to qualitative assessment of the different elements used in the research (e.g., data, models, expert judgments and the like) and determine their “methodological reliability”, given the purpose of the relevant model.



09:15 – 09.30           Arthur Petersen (Chair of the Day): Introduction to today’s topic

09:30 – 10:30           Leonard Smith: On the Role of the Relevant Dominant Uncertainty

                                    in Science and in Science-based Policy

Commentator: Ernst Wit

10:30 – 11:00           Coffee/tea break

11:00 – 12:00           Bruce Beck: Handling Uncertainty in Model at the Science-Policy Interface

Commentator: Mary Morgan

12:00 – 13:30            Lunchbreak @ Gorlaeus Restaurant


13:30 – 14:30           Wendy Parker: Scientific Models and Adequacy-for-Purpose

                                    Commentator: Gabriele Gramelsberger

14:30 – 15:30           Plenary discussions led by the Chair of the Day

15:30 – 16:00           Coffee/tea break

16:00 – 17:00           Discussions in sub-groups

17:30 – 18:30           PUBLIC SESSION (on campus)

Maarten Hajer Communicating scientific results to lay audience, facts or uncertainties (the case of climate change)


19:00                          Workshop dinner at de Regentenkamer in Leiden

                                    See Menu and Route




Thursday 27 October 2011


Social Science and Statistics

Data of social science and statistics are typically inhomogeneous: as the realizations of complex interactions they are not stable. Since the traditional statistical techniques presuppose homogeneity, they cannot be applied in these instances. Various ‘ometrics’-disciplines arose as new branches of applied statistics by developing strategies to treat this kind of data. The new strategies share the feature of being model based. An evaluation of errors therefore is a model-based assessment, where the model must cover the sources of errors. On Day 4 several strategies will be discussed where errors are evaluated by the assessment of its representations.


09:15 – 09.30           Marcel Boumans (Chair of the Day): Introduction to today’s topic

09:30 – 10:30           Evelyn Forget: The natural history of policy error

                                    Commentator: Julian Reiss

10:30 – 11:00           Coffee/tea break

11:00 – 12:00           Aris Spanos: Learning from data: the role of error in statistical modeling and inference

Commentator: David Teira


12:00 – 13:30           Lunchbreak @ Gorlaeus Restaurant


13:30 – 14:30           Deborah Mayo: Learning from error: How experiment got a life (of its own)

Commentator: Richard Gill

14:30 – 15:30           Plenary discussions led by the Chair of the Day

15:30 – 16:00           Coffee/tea break

16:00 – 17:30           Discussions in sub-groups





Friday 28 October 2011


Looking Backwards and Forwards

Participants summarize and evaluate the results of the workshop; plans for future collaborations and new researches are discussed.


09:15 – 10:30           Mary Morgan: workshop discussant
Theme representatives:
Richard Gill Errors in society

Mieke Boon Engineering.

Evelyn Forget Social Science

Giora Hon Experiment
Marcel Boumans Measurement

Arthur Petersen Communication



10:30 – 11:00           Coffee/tea break

11:00 – 12:00           [continuation of session]


12:00 – 13:30            Lunchbreak @ Gorlaeus Restaurant, and Informal Discussions


13:30 – 15:00           Concluding session, plans for the future


===end of workshop===