Yesterday, johnnyb asked whether doubt is the engine of science:
The narrative goes like this: science proceeds by taking everything we think we know and hold dear and doubting it; this doubt is what allows the progress of knowledge. Christopher Hitchens said he was “a skeptic who believes that doubt is the great engine, the great fuel of all inquiry, all discovery, and all innovation.”
Here’s one approach: Doubt isn’t “the engine” of anything at all.
Doubt is by definition a retardant: It causes us to stop, hold back, get more advice, check the stats, read the manual again, phone someone, don’t shoot, don’t shoot, don’t shoot … wait for backup, wait for backup …
As johnnyb points out, doubt doesn’t create ideas by definition. That isn’t its role. So when someone claims that doubt creates ideas in science, I fear we are witnessing a decline of actual science.
We are living in a time where we haven’t been to the moon in forty years but pop culture knows there is a multiverse based on no evidence whatever.
Because, where there is no doubt, there can be no evidence.
See also: How the multiverse got invented without evidence. (Doubt as the engine of science?)
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