Saturday, April 27, 2013

On science, and why people need to learn how it works

I'm going to try something new and radical in my young career as a blogger, something I've never tried before.

What you ask? A rough draft followed by an edited and well structured final post.
Not a chance oh hopeful one.

I'm trying for a SHORT POST!!!!!!

That's right, slightly less long winded and considerably less long worded, it'll be like jaunty high five rather than an uncomfortably prolonged hug.

The topic at hand.

Some people don't understand how science works.
I don't mean, they don't understand some scientific principle, I mean they are missing a fundamental  concept that's key to the whole business. They don't understand that science is interconnected, and impossible to map. They forget that many, possibly even most, scientific discoveries were made by people trying to figure out something else entirely. So I read an article talking about caffeine and it's effect (positive) on productivity, and about how this has been suggested as being of profound importance to the development of the recent history of the world.
      Some comments were along the lines of "no shit sherlock" to which I say, scientists look at Sherlock Holmes and say "don't be a pompous ass, there are dozens of scenarios equally as likely as the little fantasy you just cooked up, and when we are dealing with biology we barely understand, very little is self evident, and nothing is elementary". Science is always in a state of argument, that's why it advances.
      The most awful comments though are those (and I do see these often) that say things like "they should be spending time and money curing cancer, not conducting study x that I barely understand but think sounds wishy washy" or the snide "solved all the other problems in science then have ya". No, guess what, every scientist in the world is not going to spend each day trying to figure out how to solve cancer, because most scientists aren't suited to that work, and that's good, because it might be some marine biologist, or a sociologist who discovers some key bit of information that leads to a greater understanding of the disease and it's ultimate curing, because that's how science works. So when next you read some scientific study, feel free to criticize the method or conclusions (if you really understand them) but you better be very confident in your grasp of the science of the study before you criticize it's existence.

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