Broken Perceptions – The Limits of Science [11Sep10]
We forget that scientists are people, prone to error. Just because they are scientists doesn’t mean they understand all things “scientific”. Let’s not forget that they are led by the same socio-economic impulses as the rest of us. They too work in highly competitive environments. (It’s a shame.)
As perceived “experts” of the reductionist reality we seem to favor, we both celebrate and condemn them for seeing what we ourselves are too “unintelligent” to see. Science reporting upholds the myth of scientists being heroes, while in actuality, they are just people doing their jobs the best they can, no different that the rest of us.
Plenty of today’s scientific theories will one day be discredited. So should we be sceptical of science itself? Anthony Gottlieb explains …
Good sense is the most fairly distributed commodity in the world, Descartes once quipped, because nobody thinks he needs any more of it than he already has
No group of believers has more reason to be sure of its own good sense than today’s professional scientists.
There is no full-blown logical paradox here. If a claim is ambitious, people should indeed tread warily around it, even if it comes from scientists; it does not follow that they should be sceptical of the scientific method itself.
When you paint yourself as a defender of the truth, it helps to keep quiet about how often you are wrong.
That fact partly explains why some influential climate scientists today, and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, are having a hard time.
Wary of yielding any ground to those who think that global warming is some sort of hoax, they have sometimes been mightily unwilling to be open about exaggerations, mistakes and confusions in influential reports about climate change—such as the flawed “Hockey Stick” paper, published in Nature in 1998
Physicists, in particular, have long believed themselves to be on the verge of explaining almost everything. In 1894 Albert Michelson, the first American to get a Nobel prize in science, said that all the main laws and facts of physics had already been discovered
In a recent book, “Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us—And How to Know When Not to Trust Them”, David Freedman, an American business and science journalist, does a sobering job of reviewing dozens of studies of ignorance, bias, error and outright fraud in recent academic science.
He notes that discredited research is regularly cited in support of other research, even after it has been discredited. Trials of the safety and efficacy of drugs, which are often paid for by pharmaceutical companies, seem to be especially liable to errors of various sorts.
That helps to explain why medicines that can do unexpected harm—such as thalidomide, the sedative which was withdrawn in 1961 after causing deformities in babies, and Vioxx, a painkiller that had been used by 84m people before it was pulled in 2004—make it to the market.
It is perhaps the biases of science reporting in the popular press that produce the most misinformation, especially in medicine. The faintest whiff of a breakthrough treatment for a common disease is news, yet the fact that yesterday’s breakthrough didn’t pan out—which ought to be equally interesting to a seeker after truth – rarely is.
When a drug is tested on animals and seems promising, it makes headlines, even though the majority of drugs that pass animal trials never become usable for people.
The contest is not a zero-sum game: the shortcomings of science do not make it rational to believe cranks instead. It’s a fair bet that many of today’s scientific beliefs are wrong, but only your grandchildren will know which ones, and in the meantime, science is the only game in town.Read more at moreintelligentlife.com
|Print article||This entry was posted by ddrrnt on September 11, 2010 at 8:33 am, and is filed under Gut Smart Research. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|
No comments yet.
No trackbacks yet.
about 3 years ago - No comments
Amplify’d from www.masternewmedia.org The pharmaceutical industry is not a naturally grown health industry, but an artificially created investment business based on the deceptive promise to deliver health. The marketplace of the pharmaceutical industry is your body – but only as long as it is sick. Prevention, root cause treatment and, above all, eradication of diseases…
about 4 years ago - No comments
I know Rhys Morgan is a bright 15 year old kid w/brains, but I’ve met someone who has healed their cancer w/ MMS (yeah, I know, “OMG it’s bleach”), and I wouldn’t be surprised if it helped others with #crohns in their journey of #healing. Maybe we shouldn’t leap so quickly onto stories which we…