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Is Doubt the Engine of Science?

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Many people have claimed that doubt is the great engine of scientific advance. In this article, I would like to contend against that thought, and show the true virtue that lies behind science that is often mistaken for doubt.

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We just finished a class research project on uncertainty in science. This article was quite timely, and summed up things nicely. I think Hitchens missed the precise word. He should have borrowed from Kipling. It's "insatiable curtiosity" that tends to drive science. :) I think JohnnyB got the character aspects right. "This "knowledge" puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. (1Co 8:1-2)" Our knowledge is great but also greatly limited. "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1Co 13:12)" Physteach
If the author is going to criticize a philosophy of science, woudn't it be prudent to actually present an actual philosophy of science, rather than his personal interpretation of a single sentence quote? Popperian
@johnnyb You have an interesting insight. The following line brings the little-used-anymore term "scoffer" to mind.
Doubt is purely negative. It only means to cut down what has already been learned after many years.
Solomon had some thoughts on scoffers relevant to your post: "A proud and haughty man— 'Scoffer' is his name; He acts with arrogant pride." - Prov. 21:24 "A scoffer does not love one who corrects him, Nor will he go to the wise." - Prov. 15:12 "A scoffer seeks wisdom and does not find it, But knowledge is easy to him who understands." - Prov. 14:6 bb
Basically, I see science as merely the application of our worldly intelligence to the study of the physical world, while subjecting such study to a kind of triage. The 'as good as dead' info, being what is strictly irrelevant, and which would normally tend to obscure the kernel which makes it science. QM, much more adventurous by reason of what has been discovered, has actually led to a wonderful bridge between physics and metaphysics. Axel
Doubt is the engine behind science and TSZ hopes to win the Nobel prize. Mung
If there is an 'Engine of Science', doubt is a throttle and belief is an accelerater. There must be a balance of forces for an optimum performance obtained from "the natural disposition" to search, know, imagine, innovate, and create ... the Engine of Science is ingenuity in human experiencing. redwave
"When I examined myself and my methods of thought, I came to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge." - A. Einstein A new paradigm is conceived by the imagination of the scientist, as a sculpture is conceived by imagination of the sculptor; the targeted pedantry of routine, scientific endeavour is the vehicle of its realisation. This was surely why Einstein rated imagination higher than intelligence, and seemed to despair of the incomprehension of his peers - the establishment already 'led up the garden path' by secular fundamentalists, who affected to believe they had been given 'the green light' by Darwin. Darwin's pique at God's providence because of his daughter's death was a gift to them, though hardly a godsend. They were in like Flynn. No-one and no thing could alter their zealously-religious fundamentalist, secular mindset. Instead of taking Einstein's advice at face-value, they adapted his words to meanings they would have no problem with. Intuition, imagination, paradoxes - all such concepts are denuded of rational meaning prior to acceptance in their lexicon. 'Intuition', like 'mind'/consciousness, emerges, is magicked from matter; 'imagination' is the faculty for magical fairy-stories of theists and deists; 'paradoxes' are not counter-rational, but counter-intuitive, ....and so on. A kind of gnostic inversion of meaning, such as homosexuals promote: abnormal/eccentric is normal/mainstream, champions of diversity happen to be lobbyists for homogeneity, even with regard to the most fundamental of human relationships. We are powerless before the forces of Nature, when it decides to act in an arbitrary fashion, even deploying a tiny fraction of it strength; yet, they presume to impose their will on the most basic aspects of human nature, such as sexual congress and parenthood. http://amasci.com/weird/skepquot.html Axel
Science is just a methodology to coming to accuracy in conclusions about things. So with the methodology comes intelligence to use it right. Doubt is not relevant to this. its a minor detail that possibly makes someone more craeful in investigation and drawing conclusions. Science is about figuring things out and being pretty sure. thats why evolutions failure is in its not being scientific. Its not just wrong science but not science at all. iD folks miss this point. Robert Byers

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