In the name of Science?

After listening to some mild bickering in the “Dear Mr. Scientists” forum, I had the thought that perhaps science is more of a hinderance than a help.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a great deal of respect for science. In fact I’ve dedicated over two years worth of my life to studies in chemistry and biology alone. Let’s not forget the physics, math, and random 101’s like geology and environmental science that I took over the years as well.

That being said I’d like to take an aggressive shot at science. I believe it may have allowed for some people to escape into an ignorant and dead world while, “keeping up appearances” so to speak.

True, it seems that the most technichal and accurate answers always come from the scientific community. But in my opinion this only because the scientific community is in the habit of particulating every bit of existence so that it may be rematerialized according to set standards.

For example, in science, a person is taught the scientific method. First you observe something and gather information about it. Then you make a hypothesis, test your hypothesis, and so on.

Now that whole process, to me, is something I’ve been doing since I was born. I’ve always tried to conclude truths about life. Usually I like to call them feelings. I might not be quite as dogmatic about the process. I might not particulate it out in words. But I know what I feel, I know how strongly I feel it, and I also believe what I feel.

In the science world, however, there is no room for emotion. There is no room for that first notion towards the “scientific method” or conciousness as I’d like to call it. In fact a person has to start all over from scratch. Notations must be made and imperfections perfected. Rediculous amounts of time must be put in to pinpoint a materialized answer that merely, for some aching insecurities, gives peace of mind.

I can see how this methodology might help us learn a few new tricks and make some cool tools. It might give us some shortcuts and leave us doubtless in certain situations. But does that way of thinking and acting ignore the apparant truths that our hearts tell us everyday? Is science for people who ignore their hearts? Are we going to wait for sciencists to prove everything we already feel in our hearts?

What are the thoughts of a person who assumes past these small particulations to find the greater essence of life instead of playing games with magnifying glasses? That’s what I’d like to know. What happens when someone stops trying to prove everything they see in literal terms and just takes on the world without a doubt?

I don’t mean to shun science altogether because I appreciate many aspects of it. However, I do think that science has allowed people to forget about the big problems in life and focus on little functions for immediate pleasure. A disease that has sickened many hearts into spoiled confusion. Subjectivity.

Some comment from a researcher… For what it’s worth :

What does your heart tell you concerning bulk metallic glass deformation ? I don’t understand your question, actually… ?

No : they have childs, care about the world, can implied in political life abd have definitely a strong heart when it comes to their research. Researcher are not cold men in white coat…

If you wait for them to prove love or to prove who is the “person of your life”, I am afraid you’re going to wait for a long time : those questions, who clearly depend on your heart, have nothing to do with science, and as far as I know, scientific don’t pretend to have answers to these questions - well, they might be studied in psychology, but that’s not exactly a “deterministic” science, so that should not be an issue.

You are not talking of resaercher, here, but more of psychs. That’s quite different : the first can be found in labs and have normal life - as I have already said - the others are generally found in jail or asilum.

Have you tried ? Personnally, I do it all the time, and that’s nice…

Marc

Science is supposed to be impersonal. It’s supposed to divorce the researcher from his research. It’s supposed to be anal retentive about procedure and verification. Why? Because the process is designed to cut through any amount of subjective distortion, which, if allowed to run unchecked, would begin to seperate our worldview from reality. A lot of the things people “knew in their hearts” or “took without a doubt” turned out to be absurdly wrong. (Sun going around the world, heart being the seat of thought and emotion, ect …) Science’s method is to prove everything in literal terms because it’s goal is to determine the best model for what is literally true.

That said, hard science does not form the bulk of our knowledge. It is just the most certain of our empirical knowledge. Greater or lesser degrees of verification are used in various fields of our lives. And you’re right insofar as if we had to set up a lab to verify everything we took to be true, we would be mentally paralyzed.
Imagine setting up a lab to test exactly under which circumstances your friend would get angry at you and end your friendship? Wouldn’t work. Not only can’t you keep resetting your friend to test a new circumstance, it would also not account for growth in friendship over time, or the fact that such experiments would be exceedingly cruel. So the best you have in terms of knowledge to the extents of your friendship is the mental model of what you think he would like/tolerate based on subjective evaluations.

That said, scientists are people, just like everyone else, with families and children, political views, any number of subjective views of their own. But when a scientist sets out to practice hard science and find something out scientifically, he tries as best as he can to leave all that at the lab door.

Science is boring.

I agree with Murdoc. You people and science bicker like an old married couple.

Just take science to be the tool that it is and move on.

Do you understand science, to say something like that ? Or did you have bad marks ?

I understand science. So much that it bores me now and I must move on to something new.

You do understand ? So you can explain how to unify the four fundamental forces and how it affects the notions of space, time, matter, energy etc… ?

Marc…I take it you a strong science enthusiast eh?

How did you guess ;=) ?
That’s my job, and I like it… I can understand that people think science is boring : thank god, we don’t all like the same things - world would be boring ! but to tell : “I understand science” seems a bit swelled, to me. And whatever one says, remove science and we can’t have this conversation, we can’t travel far, cure people, have a watch, light, etc. So, don’t bite the hand that feed you, that’s my point… I am not pretending science is the beginning and end of everything, but it surely is something important. Not more than art, but not less either…

Marc

I understand that Science is used to define and confine the world around us. It is used to make us more comfortable in this ever changing world by implementing non-changing characteristics to it. In otherwords, Science creates the box that we are trying to think outside of. That box, my friend, bores the shit out of me. I looove change. It spices things up a bit.

Marc, I sense that you are angered by all the comments against science.

Like I said…I like science, I like it a lot.

The point I’m trying to make is not that science is bad.

However, I am beginning to think that some scientist like people, or at least people who take an extremely analytical approach to life happen to ignore their feelings too often as a result of thier passion to organize information neatly.

You see the more time you spend categorizing things the less time you have to observe new things.

For example, imagine a boy who is happily growing up with his mother and father in a neat little normal environment. The boy does not find a need to look deeply into most things. He simply does what he thinks is right and gets by. One day the boy’s parents die in a car accident. Suddenly the boy feels alone and hurt. His parents are gone and he cannot understand why. More than that, he no longer can understand why anything happens. So he begins to pile up reasons for everything, trying to somehow appease the confusion he has been left with since his parents died. The boy cannot appease these questions that keep coming. The more answers he has the more questions that come. For years the boy fights the questions until he is a man. The questions still keep coming until he meets a girl who he falls so deeply in love with. The questions are still there, but they’re quieter now. On one happy occassion, hightened by placidity of a particularly perfect boredom, the man finally asks the question, why did I start asking all these questions anyway.

The moral is that people spend too much time looking for the answers when really the answer is just to stop questioning it.

In the same respect I think science was born out of the unhappiness of men. They wanted more for the moment. More security, more happiness. Why can’t they just be happy though? Why do they think like that? Why do they question why everything is the way it is? Does that way of thinking and acting ignore the apparant truths that our hearts tell us everyday? (our hearts give us comfort if you can’t remember. ya know, good songs, sad stories, cute puppies, girly stuff?)

Don’t you think internet is a change ? How do you do it without science ? You like books ? How do you print them without science ? You like movies ? etc. Science offers possibilities, for those who can see them, and create with them. But science will never tell what movie you can or cannot make, what painting you should paint, etc. Where do you see boxes ? Unless you want to go back in a cave and see what wonderfull possibilities this life offers you, without any boxes, of course : there is no science…

Marc

Marc, I am not saying that science is bad or that we shouldn’t have it. For people who need that box science is very important. It makes them feel safe and comfortable. It, in illusion, makes them think they know what is going on. They feel they are in somewhat control of an uncontrolable universe.

Also, I am talking about the process of science not the results of science. To go out into the field and give something a name and a definition is a box. It states that this is what it is and it can’t possibly be anything else. How close-minded this is.

I would find it amusing to play God in this situation. To wait untill the human race started to think it has a hold on things and then change it real fast to spice things up. Watch you try to grasp onto it again and change it. I would repeat this untill you guys became fustrated and stopped trying. You just accepted to simply live in complete unknown.

Nientilin,

I agree with this risk that you point out :

But as you say, I think that scientists are not the only one… philosophers could be good candidates, too, I am afraid. But it’s a matter of persons. I am son of a researcher, and as far as I can judge, he is really well-balanced… I think your question can only be answered at the personal scale.

Well, I don’t quite agree… I think that you can be perfectly happy and have questions about stuff… I am more concerned about these young people interesting by nothing, curious about nothing, and never enthusiastic : I think that there is a problem here… I’ve worked with youngs like that for a couple of years, and the one without question were rarely the happy ones. That’s just my experience, I don’t pretend it’s a general rule.

I think it was born out of their curiosity.

That’s not what I am looking for, personnally (well, to be honest, I am glad to earn money, but I could as well earn much more in another field than research, so…). I think science is beautifull. I am amazed by symetries and other concepts like those ones, and that’s it.

I have those things : music I like, friends, and all that stuff. I am not a researcher because of a discomfort… What of my greatest experience of cheerfullness in life is due to a (very tiny) discovery. That was really amazing. And I know also that each time I understand a new concept, I have a feeling of that type : there is a real accomplishment in science, as there is one in building a house, painting, composing… I think it’s a matter of personality : some person like to write books, to repair stuff or to do research about matter and stuff like that. i don’t see any problem. The question is, I think, more psychological : what “dictates” our liking ?

Marc

I apologize but I forgot to include something in my last post. Internet, books, etc. are wants not needs. Science is excellent at creating wants.

That’s absolutely not true, as far as I am concerned. Science is not a box to reassure myself ! It’s something beautiful, it’s first of all a matter of aestheticism, as it is when you look a nice movie or a beautiful painting. If you can understand that, maybe you’ll understand that all scientists are not necessarily afraid of their own shadow, but trully interested in what they do, as I hope for anybody - whatever they are, bread-baker, painter, trader…

Believe me, scientist are before anything humble about what they know and don’t know ! The scientific method teaches you to be prudent and systematic, not to be confident and rely on a illusion of any kind of control, and certainly not a control of the universe. We are very aware that to understand is not to control ! Read Blaise Pascal, I don’t know… he speaks of heart and science in a very interesting way.

To be a little bit more provocative, I’d say that you are the one putting things in boxes… Obviously, my motivation is not the one you think, and I think it’s the case for most researcher, but you don’t get that - and that’s fine : if you did you’d probably be one of us, or sthg close… but anyway, you pretend to define who we are and what are our motivations… I don’t feel like the one with a box here…

Oh no ! It’s to listen and find how are things… Science don’t dictate to nature, it’s exactly the opposite. It’s deeply a contemplation of nature.

Scientists - believe it or not - are always looking for something out of their framework : that’s what makes things move on. And from a general point of view, just watch the news and any control syndrome will vanish.

Marc

I don’t agree : internet, books are made possible by science, but are - by definition - technology. Science is the understanding of things, technology is their manipulation - of course, both have very intimate relations, I don’t question that, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to confuse either… What creates needs is man himself, and especially in a society of consumption. What creates needs is a certain philosophy of things, materialistic and hedonist, that, yes ! But most of these horrible researcher that I know are not fascinated by owning goods, but by understanding… I don’t think that goes in your direction.

Marc

Ok, what makes you want to research? What in you makes you want to know things? Why can’t you not research?

Needs are the things we need to survive. Everything else is a want.

Murdoc,
Why do you want to know that ?