Friday, April 17, 2009

Scientific Approach

A good reminder on science is posted on

Consensus climate science: What would Thomas Huxley say?

A couple excerpts include:
Thomas H. Huxley (1825-1895) was one of the first and most vigorous promoters of modern scientific thinking.

Science is never certain
The pretension to infallibility, by whomsoever made, has done endless mischief; with impartial malignity it has proved a curse, alike to those who have made and it those who have accepted it.
-Science and Hebrew Tradition, Preface, p. ix

Huxley wrote: “No man, nor any body of men, is good enough, or wise enough, to dispense with the tonic of criticism”

Science doesn’t operate by consensus
My love of my fellow-countrymen has led me to reflect, with dread, on what will happen to them, if any of the laws of nature ever become so unpopular in their eyes, as to be voted down by the transcendent authority of universal suffrage.
-Science and Christian Tradition, p. 252

Huxley was worried that citizens would decide to vote against, for example, the laws of gravity. Undoubtedly, he would be equally concerned if scientists declared that a scientific assertion was true because, after a vote, a majority of them had agreed it was so, i.e., proof by “consensus.” Just as a vote of citizens doesn’t make a scientific fact true or false, neither does a vote of scientists make a fact true or false. Only empirical evidence does that.

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