For better science, call off the revolutionaries

Good science requires a spirit of collaboration, not domination. The debate in social psychology involves some essential criticism of past scientific practice, but revolutions can also lead to a bandwagon effect, in which bullies pile on and bystanders fearfully turn a blind eye. Especially as more disagreements among researchers surface in social media rather than professional publications, there is an insidious temptation to mistake being critical for being right, and to subordinate humility and decency to a “gloating sense of ‘gotcha,’” as the journal Nature put it.

There is a better way forward: through evolution, not revolution.

How to Counter the Circus of Pseudoscience

“That is also the case for other health professionals whose practice is based on science, like qualified dietitians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and psychologists. Guidelines are revised, advice is reversed — on blood pressure, diet, hormone replacement, opioid prescribing. This can be immensely frustrating for patients, even though it is what we must do to provide the best possible treatment.”

Physics has a dizzying array of subdisciplines. This short video breaks it down.

How does scientific knowledge progress? What are the implications and consequences of this progress? How does this “map” of scientific knowledge accurately represent underlying reality?

Science Fields

“As Walliman’s animation shows, there’s still a giant “chasm of ignorance” that scientists are seeking to fill. Even though scientists now know a lot about things like optics, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and electromagnetism, their tested theories still can’t explain things like dark matter and dark energy. And there’s no complete theory that squares quantum physics with relativity.”

Soon We’ll Cure Diseases With a Cell, Not a Pill | Siddhartha Mukherjee | TED Talks

How are models used in medicine? How does a faulty or limited model negatively impact our approaches to treating the human body? Really great TED talk about these questions

Current medical treatment boils down to six words: Have disease, take pill, kill something. But physician Siddhartha Mukherjee points to a future of medicine that will transform the way we heal.

Science vs. Humanities in 3 Rounds. Steven Pinker and Leon Wieseltier discuss.

Science Is Not Your Enemy: An impassioned plea to neglected novelists, embattled professors, and tenure-less historians

Though everyone endorses science when it can cure disease, monitor the environment, or bash political opponents, the intrusion of science into the territories of the humanities has been deeply resented. Just as reviled is the application of scientific reasoning to religion; many writers without a trace of a belief in God maintain that there is something unseemly about scientists weighing in on the biggest questions. In the major journals of opinion, scientific carpetbaggers are regularly accused of determinism, reductionism, essentialism, positivism, and worst of all, something called “scientism.”

Crimes Against Humanities: Now science wants to invade the liberal arts. Don’t let it happen.

The question of the place of science in knowledge, and in society, and in life, is not a scientific question. Science confers no special authority, it confers no authority at all, for the attempt to answer a nonscientific question. It is not for science to say whether science belongs in morality and politics and art. Those are philosophical matters, and science is not philosophy, even if philosophy has since its beginnings been receptive to science. Nor does science confer any license to extend its categories and its methods beyond its own realms, whose contours are of course a matter of debate.

Science vs. the Humanities, Round III

Wieseltier bristles at my suggestion that science is distinguished by the value it places on the thorough-going intelligibility of the world—on the relentless search beyond the explanation of a phenomenon for a still deeper explanation of the explicans. Yet he legislates that the humanities may tolerate no such curiosity.

H.G. Wells vs. George Orwell: Their Debate Whether Science Is Humanity’s Best Hope Continues Today


“In 2013, biologist Richard Dawkins justified confidence in science in these terms: “Science works. Planes fly. Cars drive. Computers compute. If you base medicine on science, you cure people. If you base the design of planes on science, they fly. It works….” On the other hand, Nobel laureate Peter Medawar famously argued that there are many important questions that science cannot answer, such as, “What is the purpose of life?” and “To what uses should scientific knowledge be put?”

“Confronting challenges such as climate change and feeding the 2 billion people who lack a reliable source of food, it might be natural to regard science as humanity’s only hope. But expecting from science what it cannot deliver is just as hazardous as failing to acknowledge its great potential.”