Science is a verb – sciencing

Posted on December 3, 2010

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Penny: ” What’s happening to science? Instead of  delivering neat packages of ‘truth’ like it used to do it now spends it’s time unwrapping those old  packages  and saying ‘whoops this is more complicated that we thought.. .’ For instance yesterday they announced “sorry we just discovered a bit of living stuff that not only eats arsenic – a deadly poison – but incorporates it in its DNA. Up to now we thought anything that eats arsenic dies.”

Peter: “So what?”

Professor Wiggly: “Well for one thing we’re looking for signs of life on other planets. Up til now if we found signs of arsenic on a planet we assumed there could be no life. – now we know that there could be life. So the universe may be a lot more ‘lively’ than we thought…we are probably not alone.”

Peter: “So if little green people arrive on a space ship and offer us sandwiches before eating  anything check them for arsenic, etc. And  don’t cuddle or shack up with the visitors – they may be radioactive!”

Penny: “Although science is our most reliable news service we’re learning that like us they find that the future is uncertain , they find that their theories – their imaginary bridges – have weak planks and holes in them. For instance I just read that there’s a big open hole in the foundations of mathematics. ”

Professor Wiggly: “And since mathematics provides the trusted maps that scientists follow in exploring ‘reality’ – they can get reality really wrong.” But  scientists have to trust their maps or they wouldn’t go exploring. That’s why we find some scientists are bigots – if they didn’t have blind faith in their map or bridge they would n’t commit their lives to the expedition – sometimes they’re right – at least for a while – and many times they’re wrong. Science is a fallible, on-going exploration, science is a verb!”

Penny;:” But  even though scientists, like the rest of us travel on faith – on imaginary bridges – and even though their bridges are constructed of fancy mathematical formulae with holes them, and even though some scientists are bigots, sceincing is still our most trusted news service, particularly when dealing with physical objects or things. When it has to map or manipulate the true course of living stuff  like super-bugs and people its  bridges can collapse as soon as you put a bit of weight on them.”

Peter: ” So while we wait for scientists to test their bridges. to test their faith-based reasoning – their theories – we have to travel on whatever other faith-based bridges we trust – personal, political, economic, religious, cultural – whatever?”

 

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Posted in: Sciencing