Science Friction

27 04 2016

When I was little, there wasn’t a problem in my world that my mother or father could not fix, not a foe they could not vanquish, not a need they could not meet. One of the harshest lessons of growing up is to discover that they are not gods; they can and do make mistakes and there are some things they can’t repair. For a time, in that “in between,” there might arise another champion – an uncle who is strong and can lift you into the treehouse, a neighbor who bakes fancy birthday cakes – but, soon enough, they are found to also be mere mortals.

I think this might be one reason why some folks are so skeptical about Science.

Science is not perfect.

Science makes mistakes.

Hell, Science ADMITS its mistakes. Science holds up its errors and begs us to correct them.

Science is not perfect.

When we contrast this stark and scary reality with the unprovable promises of a benevolent Universe – well, Mommy! A mysterious and necessarily un-understandable force that surely must be for the ultimate good and requires no empirical proof sounds pretty damn good. We don’t have to deal with the uncertainty of Science, its self-doube, always poking at itself to try to do better.

I get it. Don’t we long for that security of innocence? Wasn’t life simpler when the bogeyman could be chased away by a flashlight sweep under the bed by Dad, when a disappointment could be mitigated with a kiss and a cookie from Mom?

Well, although I understand the charm of it, we can’t go back. There is no superhero; there is life, real life, and we are forced, as adults, to cope with all that entails.

I trust Science. I believe – and there’s a mountain range of evidence – that we are better off because of Science (and its offspring Big Medicine, Big Agriculture, and Big Pharma). This is not a comfortable position, given that there are friends I love who will disagree vehemently, but, based on the peer-reviewed and repeatable-study-gathered data, as one of my favorite fictional theoretical physicist often says, “That’s my spot.”





One response

27 04 2016
Eric Tonningsen

In the *end* isn’t it actually up to each of us what we take in, use, learn form and then choose to move forward. Who and what we trust is indeed, a significant part of this process. And hope. 🙂

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