Friday, May 14, 2021

MY GARBLED INTRODUCTION

One of the links up above is to my book blog. The rest deal with the essential topic of my life: The Way Things Work, the only significant thing about my or anyone's life.

People often believe it's the job of "science" to explain TWTW.  But there's no such thing as science, really. There are people who are educated in various fields that are commonly grouped under the heading of science, like chemistry and astrophysics and metallurgy.

Then psychology came along and wanted into the science club, so "soft" science was invented. And then people who otherwise were considered highly credentialed and had prestigious positions in  the science world started to study metaphenomena and "fringe" science was invented. 

Of course, you can also get a Ph.D. in Library Science, so how is that science? Like this: 

"Science" https://www.etymonline.com/word/science

mid-14c., "what is known, knowledge (of something) acquired by study; information;" also "assurance of knowledge, certitude, certainty," ...

From late 14c. in English as "book-learning," also "a particular branch of knowledge or of learning;" also "skillfulness, cleverness; craftiness." From c. 1400 as "experiential knowledge;" also "a skill, handicraft; a trade." From late 14c. as "collective human knowledge" (especially that gained by systematic observation, experiment, and reasoning). Modern (restricted) sense of "body of regular or methodical observations or propositions concerning a particular subject or speculation" is attested from 1725; in 17c.-18c. this concept commonly was called philosophy. Sense of "non-arts studies" is attested from 1670s. 

Science, since people must do it, is a socially embedded activity. It progresses by hunch, vision, and intuition. Much of its change through time does not record a closer approach to absolute truth, but the alteration of cultural contexts that influence it so strongly. Facts are not pure and unsullied bits of information; culture also influences what we see and how we see it. Theories, moreover, are not inexorable inductions from facts. The most creative theories are often imaginative visions imposed upon facts; the source of imagination is also strongly cultural. [Stephen Jay Gould, introduction to "The Mismeasure of Man," 1981]

"Science" isn't telling us anything or discovering anything or proving anything. Instead, individuals are interpreting data and coming to conclusions which are on a spectrum of correct to WTF? Once we see the issue in this way—the way it works—we can begin to understand that none of this knowledge has been much, if any, use to humanity or you or me or that other person over there.

It doesn't tell us anything we need to know about The Way Things Work, it just explains, with greater or lesser success, the way things work.

Now somewhere, someone has managed to wade through this post to this point and is all about the comment box where they are going to cite polio vaccines and insulin and dwarf wheat and tell me how many lives science has saved.

Save your keystrokes. Because my question to you then is: 

WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT'S A GOOD THING?