On a Criticism of Science

An oft-heard comment: <Since science keeps changing its mind, we can’t put much stock in what it says>

One of the devastating consequences of Kuhn’s paradigm-shift thesis is the misinterpretation and caricaturization of science as an unreliable source of knowledge because some of its theories keep changing or have the potential for change.

This is like a child saying that it can’t rely on its parents for food and shelter because eventually they will get old and die.

The point is, in any phase of history, the goal of science is not to give ultimate and unalterable truths about the universe, but to provide the most consistent, coherent, and reliable understanding and information about natural phenomena relative to current knowledge.

There is not one critic of science, whether individual or institutional, that has added an iota to human knowledge, though all of them have much benefited from the applications of <unreliable> scientific knowledge.

None of this is to say that there is nothing else that is significant or valuable in human life than scientific knowledge and methodology. Many other matters, such as music and poetry and religion, let alone sports and gourmet food and humor, are no less meaningful, ejoyable, uplifting, and relevant than science.

But to decry science because its theories and interpretations change reflect more a misunderstanding on the part of its critics as to what science is all about than anything seriously wrong with science itself.


Published by:

Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.

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