Questioning the Science

A couple of days ago, I saw a comment by a bestselling author who was rather scathing about people who question “the science.” It kind of took me aback because it seemed so . . . ignorant. Science is all about questioning. If it weren’t for questions, there would be no science. It’s the search for answers to those questions that create what we call “science.” Although some questions seem to have been answered, such as why an apple falls (though “gravity” itself still inspires questions) and if the sun is the center of the universe, there are others that haven’t been answered and perhaps never will be, such as what the universe is made of, how life began, what makes us human, what is consciousness, and a whole slew of other questions that make people try to reach beyond what they know.

According to Nasa Space Place, “Science consists of observing the world by watching, listening, observing, and recording. Science is curiosity in thoughtful action about the world and how it behaves.” It also says, “Science is not just a tidy package of knowledge. Science is not just a step-by-step approach to discovery. Science is more like a mystery inviting anyone who is interested to become a detective and join in the fun.”

Nowadays, though, “science” has reached the level of dogma, something that is incontrovertibly true, and anyone who dares question that dogma is branded a heretic. Of course, the word “heretic” isn’t used because it smacks of religion, and science isn’t religion, it’s . . . science. Or so they want you to believe. You’re not allowed to do your own thinking because . . . science. You’re not allowed to question the doctrine they’re foisting on you because . . . science.

But nothing is incontrovertibly true, not even truth (whatever that might be).

Supposedly, there are whole rooms full mysteries in the dark corners of the Smithsonian that don’t fit current theories about evolution, prehistory, whatever. Science only gives us the best possible explanation for observable phenomenon, and science can be manipulated to fit the scientist’s bias and, more probably, to fit the bias of the government or corporation funding the science.

Getting on a soapbox wasn’t my point in writing this piece, however. What prompted this essay is that yesterday, the day after I read that author’s comment, I saw her latest offering among the new books at the library. By habit, I reached out for it, because she was an author I sometimes read, but I couldn’t touch it. She’s nothing special and rather predictable, but that’s not why I could not force myself to pick up the book. It was the memory of her scathing remark about the stupidity of people who question the science.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

9 Responses to “Questioning the Science”

  1. mickeyhoffman Says:

    What that statement means these days is not at all what you spoke about. It’s about idiotically doubting/ questioning science about things that have been tested and agreed on by an overwhelming percentage of trained scientists and then just making stuff up for alternate explanations. Science is a process but there are solid conclusions to be reached. Like Newton’s laws. We have a friend who “questions” things and has some very strange ideas because he gets his “facts” from Tick Toc, or is it Tic Tok and has not bothered to look at any other source material.

    • Estragon Says:

      The statement might be better rephrased as ignoring the science, rather than questioning it. Taking your Newton example, Einstein, Heisenberg, Feynman, etc. have “questioned” the science. Each, in their own way, showed Newton had it at least partly wrong (or more accurately, incomplete). That’s how science works.

      I’ve read that a lawyer should never ask a question in court they don’t already know the answer to. Their questions aren’t really questions, they’re predetermined answers.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      You make a good point about people getting facts from dubious sources, but still, I don’t believe in blindly accepting the science. Scientists have brought us all sorts of horrors — fen-phen, thalidomide babies, eugenics, DES. Science is a process, but it is constantly evolving, which is why a blind acceptance is as bad as completely ignoring what is commonly accepted.

  2. Uthayanan Says:

    As usual it is a good topic to discuss.
    I try to check by definition apart from Pat.
    Science : the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.
    “the world of science and technology”
    The different is as a scientific student. The morality ?
    Historically all scientific experiments made only to make better human life and understanding of nature.
    Now what’s happening
    Science exploits arm’s race, even in IT to benefits only for money and controlling, medicines only to get more money, agriculture to change plants and animals nature, industrial wise simply to make more consumers without non solution about pollution.
    The periods of Newton, Einstein, Heisenberg, Feynman, (merci
    Estragon) is different.
    Lot of people around me believe in science blindly.
    I don’t know honestly I am afraid and skeptical of the science in the future for the human survival.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I too am skeptical of the science. Too often in the past 100 years it’s been used to control humans. And there has been way too much experimentation on people.

  3. SheilaDeeth Says:

    Of course, while nothing is incontrovertibly true, many things are incontrovertibly false. I guess I’d say scientists are in the business of asking questions and pushing the boundaries of science, but not of pushing falsehoods and denying the (often complex) evidence of science.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      That’s an interesting point, that while nothing is incontrovertibly true, many things are incontrovertibly false. Something to think about!

      • Estragon Says:

        The essence of the scientific method is nothing is incontrovertibly true. A valid hypothesis has to be falsifiable. That it hasn’t been falsified (yet) doesn’t make it true, but it does make it our best understanding for the time being.


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