NOTICE: Posting schedule is irregular. I hope to get back to a regular schedule as the day-job allows.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Why science is never settled [Full link to blog for email clients.]

We hear a lot these days that "There's a consensus" and "The science is settled."

Without getting into the politics of what people do and don't believe about certain hot-button topics - I always cringe when I hear someone claim that science could ever be "settled."  The very nature of science is that it is never settled, always questioning, always seeking to find better theories, better algorithms, better models - and frankly push back the boundaries of knowledge.

On both sides of many issues we have groups frequently labeled as "believers" and "deniers."  Frankly, both are wrong.  Belief and/or denial have no place in science, because science is a process, not a conclusion.  Science is a means of looking at something for which we have no explanation and determining how it works.  Whether we choose to believe or deny the method by which we came to a conclusion does not change the data which was used in the process.  Whether I "believe" in a theory of quantum connectedness that links all sentient minds (h/t Travis S. Taylor, Ph.D.) or not does not change the fact that there are brain processes which can be adequately explained without recourse to quantum physics - and those phenomena which have no other explanation.

Science is always changing - our techniques get better, measurements get more precise, and new theories are always produced.

To illustrate the points, Baen Books asked me to write on the topic "Why Science is Never Settled," and the article was so long we had to run it in two parts.

Part 1 ran last month and is linked here:

and Part 2 is up right now and is linked here: