Why Trust Science?

Sunday, January 22, 2023

What Is It

According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, the number of Americans who trust in science is steadily declining. While politicization is partly to blame, another reason may be that the “truths” of science seem to shift endlessly. So why should we trust science? Is it still reliable, even if it doesn’t seem to settle on a single truth? And what can be done to increase the general public’s confidence in medicine, climate research, or statistics? Josh and Ray rely on Ann Thresher from Stanford University, co-author of The Tangle of Science: Reliability Beyond Method, Rigour, and Objectivity.

Transcript

Transcript

Josh Landy  
Is science just one error after another?

Ray Briggs  
Or is it the only way to arrive at the truth?

Josh Landy  
If it isn't true, why does it work so well?

Comments (3)


Daniel's picture

Daniel

Thursday, December 15, 2022 -- 4:40 PM

Is part of the problem that

Is part of the problem that natural science can't include human life, and that nature as a domain of objects of study by definition excludes anything affected by optional human design? In the spectacular progress of the rigorous sciences, are some surprised that it explains so little about human beings?

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Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Sunday, January 8, 2023 -- 10:25 AM

There is much about science

There is much about science swirling about now. Politicization is one negative influence, I think. The ongoing pandemic has not been helpful to medicine and that may be more damaging than anything else. And, of course there has forever been the unease of religious zealotry. Other blogs level opinions and judgments, philosophy-based thinkers weighing in, while ecclesiastics pretending to be philosophers muddy the swamp even more. A continuing push towards interdisciplinarianism is troubling because the more this objective is pursued, the thinner distinctions become and effectiveness of once-respected disciplines is diluted, if not diminished. Thinkers want to argue and debate who is/was a physicist two thousand years ago! Come on, now. What does it matter in 2023?
Why do we need to defend Aristotle or Thomas Aquinas? They did the best they could, with what they had and knew, and if they did not they we only doing what they did because of preference, interest and motive---no different to what human beings do now. My brother alerted me to this post.

But it is no more than a current trend, seems to me. There are tens of thousands of people who will not get their children vaccinated. Science is not preventing this phenomenon, nor condoning it. Superstition and social re-programming is mostly responsible, along with fringe activism, based on nothing more than interest, preference and motive, bolstered by belief. Brother and I are senior citizens now. We did not get there through dumb luck. We got here through 'superior preparation, superior attitude' and superior medical care which our elders took advantage of on our behalf.

Would you jump into a volcano, active or inactive, if some reactionary crackpot told you to? I don't think so. Yet, there are those who are actively discrediting science? This makes no sense to me.

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Daniel's picture

Daniel

Sunday, January 8, 2023 -- 6:08 PM

The problem with science is

The problem with science is it needs scientists. It's not built on trust, but on defensible answers to questions someone didn't know the answer to. Its defect is it requires those who don't trust it, not believers who do. Science without scientists is just another system of orthodoxy, or a sort of academic idolatry which prevents scientific work from occurring. And that holds for practical application of research results in populations as well, as it will always need an argument which derives from the respective scientific work, making lay-people who undertake the practical tasks into armchair-researchers of the applied sciences. But consider this question: Are the sciences falling out of favor because some don't want to hear what it has to say? Or is it the case that the range of scientific results is so broad that it seems to many that all the big discoveries have already been made?

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