Friday, January 11, 2008

science is just a word you can't define

To continue yesterday’s discussion of science threatening religion; I want to look specifically at what I mean by "Science".
The study, research and speculation done according to the scientific method of testing and theory making get applied to many different subjects. The results of chemistry are hard facts; we can say with certainty that matter is made up of the atomic elements, which are different from each other, and interact in regular specific ways. Aerodynamics of wings can be tested and formulas can be found that are absolutely true when wind flows over a shape at specific speeds. There are many provable facts that can be proven true within their set of conditions. Math is full of this. What gets confusing is that each field has its limits, beyond the edges of fact which is only reached by great study. You have to know all the known aspects before you get to the known ones and by that time you are so far beyond what the average person knows that they will believe anything you say. This is the authority problem for scientists, and also priests. (I'll be using the term priests interchangeably for any sort of religious leader.)How can you trust the conclusions of the scientist or the priest? It is really because of their community status and your great ignorance of their field. If you don't know how to understand the content of their top level theory’s that you have to assume, that since they have mastered all the entry level and advanced info, then they must be able to build the great conclusions. Essentially, you can't check their work until you become one yourself.

So experts go about telling you what to believe. But some branches of science don't have the hard facts that are present at times in math, physics and chemistry. Psychology contains very little hard data, and lots of talk. How do they interpret the data on human behavior? With theories, which can seem to fit the data at times. But nothing can be proved. The whole things a sham really, because psychologists are humans and don't want to admit their lack of answers. What they have is interesting, and sometimes plausible, but in the end they end up handing out answers just because people are expecting answers, not because they really have any, and who wants to disappoint the people who think you're the expert?

Really the human desire for certainty throws off all of science, so most everything is a temporary answer, just a place holder till a better one can be devised. A math formula may be absolute truth, but the inputs going into it are from measurements that may or may not be accurate. For example, the distance between stars. It seems fairly accurate, but there are several key measurements that can be questioned, although they haven't been corrected for quite some time. Such possible variation underlies much of science, and it's normal to just make note of the issue an carry on, and then if later info proves it wrong, just go back and revise everything. This is a good and useful procedure for doing science, but the problem is for the average people, who don't do science. They just read about the conclusions and believe them just like religion. Then when disagreements arise, there is anger and fighting, and people distrust each other for believing this or that. The fight is all in words, believing not in the science data but the reputation of the scientist who told them his conclusion.

So, once again I failed to be specific, and write a mess of vagueness. I don't want to look at unprovable and controversial theories and fields like evolution, global warming, psychology, earth and universe age, those things are fun and/or frustrating to discuss, but what we really need to consider is the parts we do accept; how do they change our thinking about life, the world, and religion? Let’s think about the changes in thought caused by real, factual science, and how we ascribe authority to ‘science’ in general.

In other news, I walked by a tree today, heard churring sounds and looked up to see a tree full of black and grey squirrels! There where at least six, and a few more in the next tree. It was quite surprising.

Grady Houger ~ wishes he could think better

So there is too much information out there to learn it all right? Some of it's incredibly useful, particularly the history of science over the last 350 years. For a child to have an advantage over the next tv watching slob, girls and boys should be taught and encouraged to learn real things rather than empty headed kiddie nonsense. There are lots of age-appropriate biographies and science books that are interesting, and then when they grow up, it's money. Real money, people! You don't get money for knowing tv trivia.

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