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pantodragon

Is Science the final answer?

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In his book, The Magic of Reality, Richard Dawkins makes the following assertion: “If present day science encounters an observation, or an experimental result, that it cannot explain, then we should not rest until we have improved our science so that it can provide an explanation. If it requires a radically new kind of science, a revolutionary new kind of science so strange that old scientists scarcely recognise it as science at all, that’s fine too.”

Scientists often make his kind of claim. It seems to make science impregnable. How can something that is willing and able to change in order to come up with the explanations for phenomena that lie outside its present compass possible not end up being able to explain everything that it is possible to explain?

Well, firstly, just because you can come up with an explanation for something does not mean it is the right explanation. That is one thing, but there is something

else that I think more fundamentally wrong-foots that claim: a scientist is trained. The discipline of science trains the minds’ of scientists to thing and do things in specific ways, so that they are, as it were, trapped in the box of science and cannot think out of that box.

I have just been listening to a pianist talking on the Radio and saying how music swirls through her head all the time, and how, even when she is doing other things, she is always practicing the piano in her mind. That is it: highly trained people cannot stop their minds from running on and on along those same ‘tracks’; once your are a trained pianist, or scientist, you ‘do it in your sleep’. Piano teachers often say that they far prefer to get a pupil untrained that to take on one that has already learned to play the piano because it is so very, very difficult to ‘untrain’ someone, to get them out of the habits they have already learned.

So I think science cannot change as scientist claim to encompass things that are currently beyond its grasp.

In addition, the peer review system means that, even if a young scientist, or an outsider, were to try to change the system, they would be caught out by the older people who are unable to change.

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