First we had Occam's Razor. Then we had Hickam's dictum. In confusion, we invented the Duck Test. But finally, we have the one trite epistemological aphorism to rule them all: Newton's flaming laser sword!
Coined by philosopher Mike Alder, Newton's flaming laser sword is a particularly confining device, trimming all of human knowledge to that that can be proven through scientific experimentation, right now. It is commonly summarized as "what cannot be settled by experiment is not worth debating", although Alder himself gives a somewhat longer definition:
"In its weakest form it says that we should not dispute propositions unless they can be shown by precise logic and/or mathematics to have observable consequences. In its strongest form it demands a list of observable consequences and a formal demonstration that they are indeed consequences of the proposition claimed."
His first example of this is the famous quandary,…