Friday, June 16, 2006

"But science was wrong before, wasn't it?"


And as much as I hate to take up arms against an until-now reasonable and well-behaved commenter, I have to take serious exception to a good deal of what commenter "scout" wrote back here in the first comment, althought I'll limit myself to just one of the more egregious and maddening points made there:

science: there's merit but it's not the be all end all it proclaims. what is 'true' today will not be viewed as 'true' in 100 years, just like much of what science held as 'true' 100 years ago is not 'true' today.

In a word, bullshit. Now, one can read, for instance, this refutation of that particular bit of nonsense and, while I agree with Skeptico's explanation, I don't believe it makes the point forcefully enough.

Quite simply, our level of scientific knowledge is directly proportional to our ability to measure and observe everything around us. Early, primitive man (that would be Neandertal, Cro-Magnon and Rob Anders) was convinced that the earth was flat and that the stars were holes in the sky and that disease was caused by evil spirits, or what have you. And all of that was perfectly understandable at the time since there was no way to disprove any of that. Early man simply had no advanced way to observe and measure the world around him.

As time went on, and we developed microscopes and telescopes and more advanced measuring and observing devices, we got to see things we had never been able to see before, and that made all the difference, and that's what drove the acquisition of scientific knowledge.

In fact, the idea of better and better devices fits in nicely with the common idiotic accusation that, hey, Newton was wrong about celestial mechanics and his rules were replaced by Einstein's theory of relativity. Well, sure, you can sit there and claim Newton was "wrong," if your goal is to be a pedantic dumbass. Newton was "right" to the best of his ability to be able to measure and observe, since the differences there only kick in once one starts talking about relativistic speeds. So Newton wasn't "wrong" so much as he was "incomplete," and his work was not corrected so much as it was refined and extended by Einstein based on more powerful measuring devices. See how that works?

This is how science operates -- we don't know something until we finally develop the tools that can observe and measure it, at which point we start to discover things we could never have seen or tested before. And because of this, it's highly unlikely that, all of a sudden, we're going to discover that what we believed for decades or centuries is suddenly completely wrong.

Does anyone seriously believe it's possible that one day we'll wake up and go, "Oh, wait, those bright lights up there in the night sky really are just holes in a firmament after all." Or that we'll suddenly decide that this whole "germ" theory is just silly and that it really is evil spirits? I don't think so. Just as it's hideously unlikely that the scientific community will, some day, suddenly exclaim, "Wait! This whole evolution thing is completely bogus! It really does make more sense to imagine a young earth and worldwide flood to explain everything around us." Yeah, that'll happen. When pigs freaking fly.

If you want to argue that science sometimes gets ahead of itself and has to be corrected down the line, fine, make that argument. And back it up with some actual examples. But don't come wandering in here, blathering about, hey, science was wrong before and it can be wrong again. That's a worthless argument, made only by people who, as Skeptico points out, have no actual case.

4 comments:

Meaghan Walker-Williams said...

If there ever does come a time when people find evidence of the existence of UFOs and ETs that have visited us in the past, that would fit very well with the mythology of my people who believe that the first 12 people in this valley "fell from the sky" and were 'placed here' by "Haals" whom we call "The Transformer" (not the creator -- although some religious types would tend to want to go with the creator line)

Until such a time (and believe me, I am not holding my breath waiting for the discovery of LGM, or other life forms with superior intelligence to our owns showing up -- I believe in the science of evolution, and find the mythology to be interesting stories... but just that.... Stories

Scout said...

'creation' stories are more then just stories. they have a purpose and until you really put your conscious to it you won't find out why.

so, i make a statement that science has been wrong before and it gets lambasted as some kind of ignorant viewpoint. so be it. but tell my why there's been to many cases of enigineering where it was deemed , according to the laws of physics, impossible, yet the 'experiment' worked?

look at medicial science.....sorry, but there's just some things that were considered 'true' back then that wouldn't be touched with a ten foot pole today.

the beringia theory? that's the thing with science, so much is theory.

don't take this as a compete degredation of science, it has come up with many wonders (and horrors). i have benefitted from science. those traditional remedies known as 'alternatives' that sprang from the world of indigenous medicine had their own methods of discovery, application etc.......i suppose one could deem them 'scientific' in approach.

the mayans, hawaiians and many other indigenous cultures had astronomy going far before 'the western world' and all it's 'discoveries'.

back to beringia. ever watch the national geographic dvd on dna and the 'we all come from africa' theory? a condescending bit hosted by a scientist who interviews indigenous people from around the world, looking for one in a crowd from a particular area where he believes a migration pattern started.

when he finally finds someone who will go along with his notion (and it's done in a way that of 'alas, i've finally found someone intelligent who knows that science is the be all and end all), he sets about further to prove his theory.

you can put down my beliefs all you like. science simply hasn't caught up to indigenous creation 'stories' yet.

as an indigenous friend who studied science and went on to become head of r&d at michelin likes to say, 'haha, maybe some day they'll get it'.

if you've never seen or felt spirit, sorry you're not tuned in. call me primitive. call me whacko, but with that you are putting down indigenous ways, the medicine ways, adn the gifts of people.

maybe you'll be lucky enough to experience something like this one day, but it takes incorporating 'the whole' and delving deeper into consciousness. but again, i'm just primitive.

at least science is catching up somewhat and can now measure energy fields that are positive and negative ......that would be your 'good and evil spirits'. science may eventually get to the spirit part.

sorry if you've shut yourself off from these things, heck, even einstein recognized many of these things. do a little reading on him if you want to really delve into matters. then use him in your words of disagreeing with me and perhaps you'll come back with a more open mind.

CC said...

scout writes:

"'creation' stories are more then just stories."

No, they're not.

"they have a purpose and until you really put your conscious to it you won't find out why."

You can argue all you want that creation "stories" have a personal significance, or philosophical significance, or cultural significance, or whatever you want.

But we were talking about science here, so all of your talk about "purpose" is utterly irrelevant to the topic at hand.

Scout said...

ah, i see...so then meaghan's post is irrelevant too....but no comment on that from you. if you can wrap your head around the fact that i was responding to both her and you, and not JUST YOU (oh oh, did i hit an ego nerve?) then you'll see the relevance.

cc, i can't help you if you don't get it. maybe one day you'll wake up. diversion is only diversion, if you can't handle that i challenge science you are no better then the 'nazis' you condemn. nothing like good old dogmatic hypocracy.

NOTE, you did not respond to my comments on science. perhaps an evil spirit got to you....a primitive neandrathal like myself could rid you of it.

see 'the conqueror mindset'
http://harper-valley.blogspot.com
i think it shows where you're coming from.