A few problems of science

Science has a number of funny problems. This post examines a few. Expert opinion weighs too heavy, for example.

Lavoisier thought that heat was caused by caloric, a weightless substance. His view became the dominant paradigm. This was a regression in scientific view because previously the movement of molecules, the current idea, had been the explanation. Caloric still survives in the form of the calorie, or unit of heat. The theory saw success because it solved a number of problems. The theory held for decades, despite a number of holes, because of Lavoisier’s formidable repute as a scientist.

(My book, Buddha is an Atheist, covers more serious problems, such as Fraud, flawed epistemology, egos, science for profit, obscurantism, and many others.)

Another problem: buried implications. Most biologists speak of ‘designed’ parts, but avoid suggesting a designer. You cannot have a design without a designer. And yes, I know all about the random generate and filter of mutation with natural selection of differential reproduction. (Creating more and more viable offspring leads to a species survival advantage.) The problem is the language is imprecise. These parts are spoken of as designed.

Just a thought – perhaps there is a non-God designer – the subconscious intent of the species. The species-wide intent is the combined force of individual intent. If a species wants to hunt, it behooves it to be high. It learns to climb or longs to fly. Evolution needs some creative juice to explain some of the things discovered recently.

There are also numberless examples of scientific censorship, both by self (fear for one’s career) and other.  Eric Laithwaite was shunned by the Royal Society after a speech on anti-gravity.  Scientific American fired Forrest Mims for his anti-Darwinist beliefs. Homeopathy research got Jacques Benveniste let go. The open assertion of an error in evolutionary theory destroyed Warwick Collin’s livelihood in biology. Princeton demoted Robert Jahn because of research into ‘supernatural’ areas.

The book covers much more ground in much more detail – fraud, broken peer review, stuck views, science for sale, rejection of different ideas – an endless list. This is just some of the cut material, and I apologize for the lack of meat in this post. But it is an important, even central topic. Science cannot be an objective endeavor when it is also a human endeavor.

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