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Re: The scientific world-view: an oxymoron?

A Letter from Peter Martin



Return-Path: <pmartin@islandnet.com>
Date: Wed, December 5 1998 22:52:53 -0700 (PDT)
To: publisher@naturalscience.com
From: pmartin@islandnet.com (Peter Martin)
Subject: The scientific world-view: an oxymoron?


The scientific world-view: an oxymoron? is an interesting and difficult question. Robinson's conclusion (Nature Volume 389:538-539, 1997) "that nothing scientifically really new will ever be discovered" is surely pessimistic, for "limited thinking ability" is not necessarily a consequence of scientifically viewing the world through a drinking straw.

As paradigms of scientific knowledge develop, narrow, as well as broad, hypotheses associated with them are refuted or accepted, and inevitably anomalies accumulate which may give rise to what T. Kuhn (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, University of Chicago Press, 1962) calls a "paradigm clash". The very nature of this clash will result in an invasion of the scientific discussion by political and ethical beliefs, and the facade that scientists are not influenced by such beliefs will be exposed. They will be drawn into the discussion by a sphere of influence greater than either of the competing paradigms, whether they "like being outdated or simply wrong" (V. Bongertz, Nature Volume 389:539, 1997), or not.

There are many scientists who already realize science is embedded in, and reflects culture, and, as you say, are not prepared to wait for the next revolution to communicate their work and ideas to a wide audience.

Peter Martin,
Victoria, B.C., Canada
pmartin@islandnet.com


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