Anti-science?

Some seem to take a general anti-science orientation. They think they don’t like science for whatever reason. Maybe they don’t like some of the content of current science as they see it. Or the way it’s being used. Or they don’t like the elitism they see in it. Or they cherry-pick and like some fields of science and not other fields of science.

To me, much of that seems misguided. Some of it lacks differentiation, and the last one lacks consistency.

THE TWO WINGS OF SCIENCE

Science has two wings. One is the methods of science, the approach to finding out things. The other is the content of science, the worldviews and the ideas you typically find within it.

THE METHODS OF SCIENCE

The methods of science are common-sense approaches to get an idea of what’s going on. We observe. Find and describe patterns. Have some thoughts about what’s happening. Test it out. Refine our thoughts. And so on.

If you are generally against the scientific methodology, it means you are against figuring things out and doing so in a sincere, honest, and grounded way.

And there is always room for grounded discussion about specifics. There is always room for improvement in how we do things.

THE CONTENT OF SCIENCE

The content of science is different. It’s colored by our culture and typical worldviews in our culture. (And it, in turn, colors our culture and worldviews.) It’s always changing. It’s always up for revision. It’s provisional.

Much of the current content of science will be seen as obsolete a few decades or centuries from now. And a different culture may understand a lot of the content differently. They have their own worldview and understand it in a different context.

SOME IDEAS ARE MORE SOLID THAN OTHER

That doesn’t mean the content of science is arbitrary or doesn’t have value or that other ideas are equally solid.

The content of science comes from research. It’s typically backed up by solid logic and solid data, and it’s tested over and over. It’s not equal to any random idea someone may have about something.

THE PEOPLE IN SCIENCE

The people performing science are trained and they check each other’s work. Scientists are invested in proving each other wrong, and they will if they can.

What scientists come up with is not equal to what any random person comes up with, and that includes people in other fields of science. (If a microbiologist makes a comment about climate change, it’s not worth more than what any random person would say about it. It’s not their field.)

This is the same in any area of life. We give more weight to what people with expertise in a field say and do. (Which doesn’t mean they are always right. They are humans and biased as we all are. And the content of science changes with changing worldviews and new information, experience, data, and context.)

Most people in science want to do the right thing. They do their work with sincerity. They speak up when they see something that’s not right. They are like you and me.

And, of course, most are not at all the stereotypical lab-coat type of scientists.

THE POLITICS OF SCIENCE

Then there is the social and political dimension of science.

Science is a tool. It’s done by people and used by people. And sometimes, the way it’s used does not align with our personal or collective values. That’s to be expected. It’s inevitable.

It’s something we need to be informed about and involved in. We can spread information. We can organize and take them to court. We can create attractive alternatives. We can vote with our money and ballot.

IS IT OBVIOUS?

It seems that this should be obvious. Don’t we all learn this in school?

And yet, when I look online and in society, it seems that many don’t quite get the basics of science and how it works in society.

Image: Created by me and Midjourney

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