Is science the trouble with science?

Posted on October 30, 2010

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Sunny Inlaw comments: “Is science the trouble with science?”

Professor Wiggly: “In a way it is. Particulary for those scientists who refuse to see the limits of the ‘reach of science’ – who see it as the only ‘proper’ way to solve problems and discover ‘knowledge’. But if you adopt a less self-righteous stance you can see SCIENCE as adaptable, as a verb “sciencing” involving trail and error approximations of the current state of affiars. For instances there are many sciences – those that deal with ‘objects’ (like the physical sciences) and those that deal with living stuff (like the biological and social sciences). Within each of these there are scientists who are rigid in their ideas of what science is and is not (e.g., the so called evidence based scientists who fail to acknowledge how limited and fallible is the accessible evidence supporting any theory. But there are also those who do acknowledge these limitations and recognize that when dealing with complex problems we must rely more on theory (assumptions, beliefs, biases) to reach conclusions because the evidence is limited or unreliable. For example that’s why physics is becoming increasing theoretical – why the big news is about string theory which is based on mathematical elegance rather than on experimental evidence. In that sense Stephen Hawking is not a scientist –  someone who collects empirical evidence, but instead he’s more of a brilliant mathematical artist producing blackboard ‘truthies’.”

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Posted in: Sciencing