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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Guest from Sanity BS: I Love this Idea (257* d) RE: BS: I Love this Idea 22 Mar 16


Intuition as well as observation is valued in science. Great discoveries in science have come from following hunches or making a "bold leap of faith," as Einstein did at the beginning of our century when he reached beyond the built-up body of evidence then at hand by means of intuition. Flashes of insight, dreams, or hunches are usually allowed in science because they can be tested. Most scientists are pragmatic at times and will on occasion seize upon a formula or a new discovery and begin to apply it according to the unwritten law "If it works use it. Never mind why. We'll figure that out later."

All scientific theories are built upon assumptions, as mentioned above. These foundational premises ought to be reexamined every once and awhile---since many times in the past tall palaces of speculation have been built on questionable and unproven assumptions. Scientific "advances" are built on the pioneering work of those who have gone before. If the pioneers made mistakes, or were short-sighted, their errors can easily be perpetuated for several generations. After a generation or two, the current scientific workers in a given field usually have "forgotten" or not taken the trouble to find out what assumptions went into the original work. Some have not bothered to ask whether or not the data base has changed or checked to see if the original assumptions are now suspect or erroneous. The problem is, yesterday's speculation becomes today's scientific dogma in many instances.

No tenured professor drawing a comfortable salary and enjoying a maturing successful career is likely to be objective---or even very rational---if a newcomer to his field questions the evidence and finds the professor's whole theory must be thrown out the window in the light of new evidence. Yet this process happens all the time, silently, as one generation fades away, new "authorities" come to power, and better theories take the place of the "primitive" notions that were held as absolutes in the previous generation. One has only to compare college science text books of today with those published a decade or two ago to see how quickly science changes its models, buries its mistakes, and quickly popularizes new theories as if they were well-established immutable facts.

    "Science is the only self-correcting human institution, but it is also a process that progresses only by showing itself to be wrong."--Astronomer Allan Sandage.


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