Sunday, September 12, 2010

Anthony Gottlieb on "The Limits of Science"

The former Economist executive editor has an interesting column at More Intelligent about the basic problem of scientific knowledge, i.e., that the scientific knowledge of today might be falsified by future science. In contrast, to the trendy anti-scientism of some conservative thinkers (see the recent editorial on this issue in Nature, here), however, Gottlieb expressly appreciates that the problem of scientific knowledge is not a warrant to accept non-scientific (i.e., inherently non-falsifiable) theories.
Happily, there is another way out of the impasse between fallible science and even-more-fallible non-science. The contest is not a zero-sum game: the shortcomings of science do not make it rational to believe cranks instead. It’s a fair bet that many of today’s scientific beliefs are wrong, but only your grandchildren will know which ones, and in the meantime, science is the only game in town. 

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