Re: virus: Pot

Autumn / Shatterglass (
Sun, 15 Dec 1996 15:02:58 PST

I will not get into an argument with you over what is or is not
"science"... You've already driven that topic quite into the ground. If
you pay attention to what I posted you may realize that I said not word
one about your most precious Scientific Method being flawed.

What I DID say was simply this... That human beings tend to take an observation... a "fact", if you will, and do everything within their power to
make it fit the theory of reality they have already devised. Perhaps in
an idealized world, those who attempt to practice the Scientific Method
would be immune to this tendency. We do not, however, live in that
idealized world. Scientists are, alas, human. They may be somewhat LESS
inclined to twist a "fact" to match a theory than those not versed in the
Method... But that does not make them immune.

No matter how sound the Method, humanity is still inclined to follow it's
Nature. As long as your scientists are human, there will be room for
exactly the kind of rationalization that I have described. The mention
of Christianity was simply to illustrate a point. I dare say that no one
would call dogmatic mythology a scientific discipline...

If I may quote Conan Doyle... "You see, but you do not observe". A
"fact"... such as the existence of certain fossil remains... may be taken to mean any number of things. It is obvious to all that they are real.
They have mass. They can be dug from the earth and re-assembled into the
likeness of animals... Their presence is not in dispute.


To the observer who holds his mythology as the benchmark of all that is
"real" the bones can not possibly be the remains of ancient life not mentioned in his version of creation. Yet they exist. What is the poor
fellow to do? Abandon his belief? Unlikely. Instead he begins to rationalize... Trying desperately to fit the "fact" (the existence of the fossilized bones) into his version of "Reality" (his creationist mythology). To
this observer then, the bones become a test... placed by his all-powerful
yet untrusting deity. No... It is not science... But as I said,
scientists are not immune to the process. I use the creationist simply as an illustration of the point.

I maintain that humanity will go to astounding lengths to preserve a
treasured version of what is "Real"... Bending observable phenomena
("facts", if you will) in amazing ways to avoid changing a paradigm. If
you don't believe me... try arguing evolution to a passionate Creationist. They may seem perfectly reasonable in every other thing, but listen
carefully to the lengths they will go to in order to maintain their own
illusion of what is real... To maintain their SUBJECTIVE version of
Reality. A reality which you personally, or the scientific or academic
community, or the culture at large may NOT believe.

Before your feathers become ruffled once more at my choice of subject for
illustration... I remind you again that the Creationist was chosen simply
because he is a common and obvious example of the point I am trying to
make. He is a specimen that every one will recognize. I'm sure that if you put your mind to it, you can think of a few members of the scientific
establishment who fit the bill as well... As loathe as you may be to
admit their short-comings in that department. As mentioned earlier, they
must be forgiven simply for being human. They do not cease to be members
of the species when they choose their profession. True... They may
recognize the problem... But as any first year Anthropology student can
tell you... Seeing your blinders and removing them are two entirely
different matters.

Do you understand? I'm sure that you have no desire to, because to do so
illustrates a weak link in the process of scientific discovery... (that
being not the Method itself, but the Method's practitioners)... an
observation that threatens your own paradigm... That Science is
infallible and ever on the heels of Truth, whatever your definition of
that term might entail.

It is true than an observable phenomena does not rationalize itself. It
simply exists. People are the creatures prone to doing that...

Perhaps unfortunately for Science... At the moment you cannot seperate
the people from the practice. Scientific Mehod is all well and good, but
without scientists... It is simply a tool without a craftsman to put it
to use. It sits on a shelf and does nothing. I agree that the tool is
workable enough. Well made. It is simply the skill of the craftsmen that
I question.