Science: The Search for Truth
The search for ultimate truth leads people down various paths; as
you have seen in the text. One avenue favored
by many is that of the scientific method. Empiricists
suggest that, although limited, the knowledge gained by following the scientific method is
superior to other kinds of knowledge (based on faith and opinion) because scientific
knowledge is objective. Science, they say, is
unbiased in its search for the truth. Where
truths based on faith and opinion vary from person to person, scientific truths hold for
everyone. The law of gravity, for instance,
applies even to those who refuse to acknowledge it; let anyone who disagrees try to
levitate or fly from a tall building. While
few would deny that the scientific method has been fruitful in producing knowledge that
people have found many uses for, both positive and negative, some people question the
objectivity of the scientific method.
- What is the scientific method anyway?
Some of these links provide background on how science is supposed to work.
- One of the characteristics of the scientific method that is touted by
its proponents is that it is value free. Unlike
other knowledge seeking enterprises such as religion, science has no biased agenda;
instead it searches for pure truth, whatever it might be.
Critics of science, however, argue that science is not value free, that it has an
underlying agenda that taints all its results. Is
science value free?
Sciences reliability and objectivity rests
on the ethics of individual scientists. The
scientific method is designed to ferret out scientists who cheat and falsify results by
requiring the replication of experiments by many unrelated sources. Some of the following links detail various
instances of scientific fraud. Is there
something wrong with the scientific method?
If science does indeed provide unbiased and
objective knowledge then it seems that this knowledge should be made available to everyone
in public schools. What happens, however,
when the knowledge provided by science clashes fundamentally with knowledge from other
sources, such as religion? These links
detail one specific case of such a clash where the scientific knowledge about evolution
disagrees with religious knowledge of creation. Should
all public school children learn evolution? If
not, why not? If so are we relegating all
non-scientific knowledge to second-class status?
Values and Attitudes in Science
Thomas Hobbes and the Scientific Method
The Scientific Method- A great overview
The Scientific Method of Problem Solving
Skeptics Society and Skeptic Magazine
Science, Objectivity, and Religion
and Science Criticism
Science and Culture in Conflict
Scientific Exploration- Critical forum on rationality and observation in science.
in Science- Bibliography, essays, etc.