I don’t know how to do that!
OT: some days ago I bought for a ridiculously low price a Zenit-EC in a flea market. Sadly it’s broken, the shutter doesn’t work (I guess I should have known given the price).
Anonymous: Do you and/or your followers can suggest any websites where one can find worldwide graduate school rankings for Science majors? Google-fu is not helping. (Also: Not a Tumblr user, but I love your blog! :D)
Try this: Academic Ranking of World Universities.
I don’t know. I guess it’s because unlike to ordinary, ready to use technology, science can be hard, counterintuitive, challenging and also uncomfortable.
I know did you know? butI don’t like it very much, and like you I feel that sometimes their posts are inaccurate. However, it has the merit to always cite the sources of information for its posts, so it’s not hard to spot if the statement in one of its post is inaccurate or if the information are trustworthy.
I didn’t say a “real” description of reality, I said a better description of reality.
Anyway, science can move forward toward “truth” through two of its key feature: empiricism and self-correction. The goal of attaining better description is to be able to make more accurate predictions.
From this point of view science is fairly different from every other human attempt to understand the world, because when someone asks: “How do you know if this is true?” scientists say: “I’ve tested it and it works. Try.” And you can try.
That’s empiricism and self-correction. That’s science.
In science there’s always someone trying to discover uncharted territories that will change our previous knowledge of what the world really is.
If you read this post, in the last lines, I say exactly that I do never refer to a person as “schizophrenic” but instead I use expressions like: “a person with schizophrenia”.
However, in another post, I indeed used the expression “a mentally ill person”. Well, that’s the same post in which I used the expression “sane people” and scify85 (thank you) wrote me a message saying that in English:
sane and insane are legal terms having to do with the ability to distinguish right from wrong, not psychological ones denoting the presence of mental illness
English is not my first language, and, as you can see reading what I write, my English is far from flawless. When I wrote “mentally ill person” I followed the rule that in English adjectives are placed before nouns without thinking much about an alternative. I will be more careful in the future.
Anyway, I have to say I received mixed feedbacks about that post. Some people say I used a tone that seems to portrait people with mental illness negatively, others instead wrote me that they didn’t feel at all my tone as insensitive. While the second kind of comments were more numerous than the first, this made me think.
I try to use words carefully because I think they are important. Unfortunately my English is not as good as I would like it to be, and I often feel this limits the way I can express myself (left aside the fact that often people seems not to grasp the tone of my posts, especially when I’m sarcastic).
While I try to improve my English, feel free to correct me and write to me whenever you feel that something I have written is disrespectful to someone. At the very least we will share some opinions.
I agree with you, when it comes to scientific questions, “thinking deeply”* is not enough, and we must use the scientific method. Philosophy is definitely not science, but that’s ok. We have science to do science’s works. Philosophy helps us in other domains.
Kuhn thought science progresses through revolutions: a certain central paradigm of science is substitute by another when the second shows it can explain more about reality and that it can solve problems the predecessor can’t.
I think that with his thesis of scientific progress through revolutions Kuhn tried to better explain that science is not an uniform and linear process of accumulation of knowledge about the world. I think his description of scientific progress was quite accurate in 1962 (The year ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ was published). I don’t think it’s an accurate picture of what science is today.
But to answer your question: I think science is the better way we have to get progressively closer to what the world really is, I think that a certain scientific paradigm is not just a widely accepted description of the reality, it’s the better description of reality. However I doubt there will be a day in which we will say: “That’s it. That’s definitely it. That’s how Nature works. Our job is done”.
I’m also aware that science is not an all logical, all rational machine that produces pure knowledge. Science is a human enterprise, and this means that it can be affected by human flaws and limitations. But it has good antibodies against them.
Anonymous: Does your interest in philosophy affect your outlook on science in general?
Well at first (I was ingenuous) I thought philosophy was alternative to science, but what then happened is that my interest in philosophy pushed me into science and helped me understand it better. So, my interest in philosophy affected my outlook on science and now my interest in science affects my interest in philosophy too (for example I have become more and more fascinated by epistemology/philosophy of science).
One domain in which my (quite small) understanding of philosophy really shaped my understanding of science is in knowing to analyze an argument used to support a theory, and tell if it’s a good argument or a silly one. I find this ability really helpful for psychology, a field full of untested theories.
I heard it is good, but I didn’t watch it yet.