Sunday, August 8, 2010

Frank Tipler on Science!

From the blog entry in question:

Immediately after his definition of science, Feynman wrote: “When someone says, ‘Science teaches such and such,’ he is using the word incorrectly. Science doesn’t teach anything; experience teaches it. If they say to you, ‘Science has shown such and such,’ you should ask, ‘How does science show it? How did the scientists find out? How? What? Where?’ It should not be ‘science has shown.’ And you have as much right as anyone else, upon hearing about the experiments (but be patient and listen to all the evidence) to judge whether a sensible conclusion has been arrived at.”

And I say, Amen. Notice that “you” is the average person. You have the right to hear the evidence, and you have the right to judge whether the evidence supports the conclusion. We now use the phrase “scientific consensus,” or “peer review,” rather than “science has shown.” By whatever name, the idea is balderdash. Feynman was absolutely correct.


When was the last time you heard a scientist - an academic - say those words? That *you* have the right to judge whether the evidence supports a conclusion that is supposedly from "science"? That there is no "science says", there are just conclusions of scientists, and that you not only are able to question them - but you *should* if you think you have reason to?

Or have you heard that you should holster your opinion and just accept what scientists - better yet, "the consensus" - has to say on any particular topic? That if you disagree, that's more a defect on your part than anything, and something you should get past. Not by understanding why you're wrong, mind you - that's considered quite unlikely. Scientists and academics don't want your understanding. They want your loyalty. In fact, they think they deserve it. They would explain why, but that would require understanding psychology, philosophy, and other subjects that you - pitiable layman - can't hope to grasp.

Funny how that works.

1 comment:

Ilíon said...

From the end of the asticle "How does one distinguish between science and pseudoscience, between true science and cargo-cult science? Many believe that Karl Popper's falsifiability
criterion provides it, but Popper's criterion has numerous difficulties, which
philosophers have pointed
out. Feynman has provided a much better way to test for true science in his
essay "Cargo-Cult
Science"
: [quote] ...
"

When I have written some computer code, it isn't enough to evaluate it in the manner that seems to be standard these days with scientists -- simply verify that it behaves as I expect it to (i.e. that “observation match theory”) -- the code isn't tested merely by observing it do what I want or expect it to do, but rather by trying deliberately to break it. And that deliberation is never a guarantee that I've thought of all possible ways to try to break it -- my familiarity with what I expect of the code can be an obstacle.