Science is Never Proven

If I had a quid for every time some punter on TV or in the media or even a politician has said “The science is proven” when referring to global warming, I’d be a very wealthy man indeed. I have to tell you, as a Ph.D. scientist myself, every time I hear this I literally cringe. The person saying it or writing it cannot then understand the philosophy of science as no scientist who does would ever utter such a stupidity. Yes – stupidity.

Today, I read an article by a scientist on CNN about the big bang. Please read with me the following excerpts…

“Everyone wants to be right. Most of us sure hate being wrong. But scientists know that new discoveries often change or even invalidate earlier ideas. Being wrong can mean we have learned something new.”

and…

“It’s the way science progresses. You put an idea out there and your colleagues — many of them good friends and scientific collaborators — try to shoot it down.

A scientist’s first reaction to a new idea is often: “That’s wrong because….” To which the proponent replies, “No, you are wrong because…” And so the debate begins.

No matter how much a scientist might hope to be right, nature holds the answer. One theory may be more beautiful than another, or more complicated, or more elegant, but nature doesn’t know or care. The job of a scientist is to find out what the real answer is, not to advocate for any one point of view.

We do that by making careful measurements and assessing the accuracy of the result.”

Later..

“That’s one reason the debates will continue until one side convinces the other. But most scientists really don’t care about the “win” — we care about understanding nature.”

And finally..

“Controversy and debate may be messy but that’s how we make progress in science.”

Excerpts from an article by Meg Urry – the Israel Munson professor of physics and astronomy at Yale University and director of the Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics.
You can read her article here.

Yes. That’s how science works – should work anyway and there can never ever be a 100% definitive right position… just a working hypothesis. So please, next time you hear someone tell you that there should be no FURTHER debate on global warming because THE SCIENCE is PROVEN.

Please educate them.

1. Science cannot ever be said to be proven
2. Without debate, there is no science.

science

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