[extropy-chat] SI morality
mail at HarveyNewstrom.com
Mon Apr 26 22:44:14 UTC 2004
Chris Phoenix writes:
> I've gone through a crisis of faith with regard to scientists recently.
> In many areas, I've come to realize, scientists are far too
> self-assured. They think they're practicing science, when in fact they
> are merely contributing to science.
This means that you shouldn't dismiss all scientists. You need to
distinguish between the ones actually practicing science and the ones
merely contributing to science. That is why I harp on the scientific
method from time to time. Because I try to distinguish the difference.
> A lone scientist can run
> experiments, observe, make hypotheses, form opinions... but cannot
> practice science, because science can only emerge from interactive
> criticism. We are all too fallible to trust ourselves to generate good
> science without lots of help.
Exactly. This is why science requires peer review, repeatability of
experiments, and the like. We must always regard lone scientists with
suspicion because their work is not science, or at least has not been
verified by science yet.
> So how can science be reported to the real world? If one scientist's
> opinion isn't trustworthy, what about lots of opinions together?
> Michael Crichton has called this "consensus science," and correctly
> attacked it. It's no more than a popularity contest for ideas, and the
> popularity of an idea has little to do with its truth.
This is where publishing is required by true science. it is not enough
to have scientists claim something, even in a group. They must
demonstrate it clearly, and give instructions so that other people can
demonstrate the same thing for themselves. Then other scientists can
either repeat the experiment to prove it, repeat the experiment to
disprove it, or critique the methodology to explain why the proof is
It is only when scientists give opinion rather than experimental
evidence that the process falls apart. So again, I would suggest that
true scientists don't fall into this untrustworthy group, but only
those who don't follow the scientific method.
Harvey Newstrom, CISSP, CISA, CISM, IAM, IBMCP, GSEC
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