"As I mused, the fire burned"

Reflection on life as a person of faith.

Truth and Science

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As an applied scientist, I have always tried to represent truth, as understood by the state-of-the-art science of that day, to the best of my ability.  That said, I also try to acknowledge that all scientific truth is mutable and changeable…as I heard one climate scientist comment, Real science reserves the right to be proven wrong with each new day.

There have been a number of scandals in the past few years that suggest the drive to publish new and exciting results, or to support a particular dogmatic theory (and to be clear, when a scientist becomes dogmatic, they are no longer practicing science, but religion).  Dogma is at home in my parallel profession, theology, but not in my role as a scientist.

My quest for truth in theology is similar to the one in science (historically, theology was seen as the queen of the sciences, as it was the theological method that was used by early scientists), but it is not the same.  In particular comes the role of quantitative data as a means of supporting a hypothesis, as much of theology is done in the absence of defensible data.

This interesting article talks about the prevalence of BS in scientific research, “The Unbearable Asymmetry of Bullshit”.

He references this paper, titled “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False”.

Which led me to this paper, “Fraud and Freud: is there an association in scientific misconduct?”

And this interesting book which I just ordered:  Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science.  This sounds like a fascinating discussion of truth in the medical sciences.  From the review (linked above):

“Begin at the beginning,’ the King said, very gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”¹ Alice Dreger is a bioethicist employed, until very recently, at Northwestern University. The fact that she felt compelled to resign over a point of ethical principle just underscores the points she makes in the book. She has long been a champion of two things. First: that driving spirit in science – the Galilean one – that sees truth as a spiritual goal and raises a middle finger to those that disagree. Second: The just treatment of those typically marginalized and ignored because their needs are inconvenient to wider society.


Written by sameo416

February 21, 2016 at 11:05 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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