Science has always been about the pursuit of Truth and the applications of that knowledge. Contrary to philosophy that attempts to find truth through logic and the use of premises that may or may not hold true, science relies on evidence, particularly things that can be measured with reasonable accuracy. So, what has gone wrong with it? How come we observe today many people in this field who fail to do that? (I’m going to refer to these people as truth-seekers, since calling them scientists would be an insult to all science-loving people)
The issue with these truth-seekers is that most of them have become polarized, oscillating between two extremes: faith and over-confident reliance on logic. The people who have gravitated towards the first extreme are basically no different to religious zealots. Although there is nothing wrong with being a religious person, even a zestful one, applying this kind of mindset in science is a bit out of place! These people tend to take things at face value, relying on existing theories as if they are gospel and never daring to question anything they have learned in school (be it in the university or even high school). Their extreme devotion to the current scientific knowledge robs them of any chance of making any meaningful impact in their field, no matter how great the impact factor of the journals they get published in.
The truth-seekers that veer towards the other extreme are the know-it-alls. Many of them have actually done something useful in science through a bold approach to research and hard work. They tend to be super smart, though calling them intelligent would be a stretch. Intelligent people are usually aware of the limits of their claims and have a very open-minded approach to things. They are fully conscious that all their conclusion are of a certain scope, beyond which they cannot infer anything they are confident about. Even the stuff they are fairly sure about, they are not sure 100% since that’s how science works! The over-confident truth-seekers, however, don’t get that and they tend to think that just because they got a book out by some respectable scientific publisher they know everything there is to know about their field, and about science in general. Despite their honest efforts to advance science they tend to drive people away from it, since no-one in their right mind would want to imitate them.
True truth-seeking lies beyond these extremes. Not in the middle, like a lukewarm water, but rather at a point that’s on a different line than the one these two points belong. True truth-seekers care about science enough to always leave room for doubt, since skepticism is a fundamental component of the way of the scientist. They have scientific rigor, yet they never resort to overconfidence and avoid making metaphysical claims about the world, based on the scientific know-how they have mastered. Instead, they are humble enough to accept other people’s views as potentially valid and subject to investigation, before discarding them, just because they are different. True truth-seekers also avoid idolizing the current knowledge that science has and are always ready to question whatever theory starts to get complacent in their minds. They are aware that science is an ongoing journey, rather than a destination, and always welcome new ideas and new data that may shake the theories they thought to be true.
After all, the truth has been proven to be ever-elusive. Thinking that we have attained it because someone gave us a degree, a medal, or some other form of recognition, is risky if not unscientific. After all, if we ever got such recognition it’s only to encourage us to keep up the good work and continue working on making the truth more accessible and more applicable, for the benefit of everyone, including our planet that grants us the resources and the opportunity to seek the truth in the first place. Maybe we’ll never find this truth, but the pursuit of it makes our lives meaningful and grants us the control over them that will allow for other aspects of civilization, such as the Arts, to flourish."
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