Karl Popper made significant contributions to debates concerning general scientific methodology and theory choice, the demarcation of science from non-science, the nature of probability and quantum mechanics, and the methodology of the social sciences. His work is notable for its wide influence both within the philosophy of science, within science itself, and within a broader social context (Shea). He was widely known for his theory on falsification which stated that theories or hypotheses cannot be proved but instead disproved, or falsified.
1902: Was born in Vienna.
1919: Joined the Association of Socialist School Students.
1925: Received a primary school teaching diploma.
1928: Earned his Ph.D. in philosophy.
1930 -1936: He taught at a secondary school.
1930: Married to Josefine Anna Henninger.
1934: Published his first book, Logik der Forschung (The Logic of Scientific Discovery).
1937: Immigrated to New Zealand.
1946: Moved to England to become reader in logic and scientific method at the London School of Economics.
1949: Was appointed as professor of logic and scientific method at the University of London.
1958 -1959: Served as the president of the Aristotelian Society.
1965: Was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
1969: Took retirement from academic life.
1976: Was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.
1982: Was invested with the Insignia of a Companion of Honor.
1994: Died in Croydon, UK at the age of 92.
Sir Karl Popper's intent in "Science: Conjectures and Refutations" from Klemke's Philosophy of Science is to fortify distinctions between the classes (and, we suppose, the quality) of intellectual discourse in his era, distinctions which were far less precise then than they are today.
Popper's argument, in essence, maintains that a number of scientific theories are pseudoscientific at best, owing to the "anything goes" nature of their power to explain. The broad acceptance of such theories owes much to the satisfaction derived from their proponents in using them to justify a preferred response, whatever the data or observations truly imply. The argument presented by Popper seems, ironically, to be driven more by sociological factors (and even emotional ones) than any other. The irony here is that these same factors are what drive the disciplines he is striving to refute: Marxist Theory of History, Freudian psychoanalysis, and Adlerian individual psychology. Living in the times when these theories emerged, Popper is well-positioned to gauge their impact first-hand, and understand the social dynamics underlying their acceptance and proliferation. It is arguable that the pseudoscience of which Popper writes (based on readings of Kuhn in "The Copernican Revolution") owes something to the philosophically-flavored efforts of the Greeks. Kuhn points out that the ancients tended to de-emphasize mathematical precision in favor of philosophical comfort; that is, the "satisfaction" offered by a theory (or perhaps its elegance) took precedence over more empirical factors.
This is certainly true of the cases Popper cites. Marxist theory and psychoanalysis have both offered their advocates a high degree of emotional and aesthetic satisfaction (and one is led to wonder how Freud would have fared among the Greeks). Moreover, there are far greater satisfactions in store for the Marxists and Freudians: there are very positive political and professional consequences to their discourse, leading to a natural preference for the aesthetics of their theories over the empirical.
It is easy to wonder if Popper has a similar motivation. Faced with a style of discourse he finds uncomfortable, he undertakes to set those theorists whom he respects (and himself) apart from the pseudoscientific style. Pure empiricism cannot be his motivation, for that is what he is seeking to define, in an age when the definitions were not altogether clear. There is an unquestionable tone of dissatisfaction to his essay - his distaste for the pseudoscientists is politely expressed but unmistakable - and it can be argued that he, too, is seeking to root out the inelegant in a quest for the elegant.
Hacohen, M. Karl Popper: The Formative Years, 1902–1945. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
Hickey, J. Thomas. History of the Twentieth-Century Philosophy of Science Book V, Karl Popper And Falsifications Criticism. www.philsci.com. 1995
Kadvany, John Imre Lakatos and the Guises of Reason. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8223-2659-0. Explains how Imre Lakatos developed Popper's philosophy into a historicist and critical theory of scientific method.