Thursday, December 16, 2010

more 'dis'ing science

Another thing Scientists tend to imply is that it has improves us as a species. It does this in a number of subtle ways - by implying that because science has forged much of the foundations of our civilization that it is a civilizing force. I'm not so sure - religion could make the same claim and I don't think there is enough evidence to uphold either of these claims.

I believe we are getting slowly more civilized and it is partly a result of the extra time to think that has been bought by scientific advances (longer healthier lives not spent just merely trying to survive). But science is at best neutral because on the other side of the equation it has given us exponential increase in the facility to kill each other which we continue to do with no sign of any downward trend. As previously posted, I also attribute most of our improvement in behaviour to a natural evolution of child rearing.

I would say that currently, while organized religion may be involved in many conflicts, science has provided both the cause and the means for all of them. While scientists are quick to point at their role in solving problems such as famine & sickness, they fail to take into account that they were also partly responsible for the problems in the first place. Without science we couldn't feed billions of people, but without science there wouldn't be billions of people. Science is both the cause of pollution and hence climate change and our best hope of solving it.

Scientists claim that there is a need and then science provides a solution. What science actually does is creates a need for something that we hadn't even thought of and then gives us the means to provide it. No engines no need for oil. No gadgets no need for electricity. I recently heard that the Amish don't actually reject all modern technology outright but rather they pick and choose - in particular they reject anything (e.g. cars) which could fracture their communities which depend on everyone being in close proximity but are quite happy to have modern labour saving devices if they enhance their family lives. This may be a misunderstanding but the point is we tend to blindly embrace whatever technological marvels are thrust our way or if there is an element of doubt (e.g. GM food or stem cell research) these are treated in isolation while we happily accept the status quo (as if we haven't been eating genetically modified food since the invention of agriculture or as if keeping premature babies alive in bubbles is more natural than growing human tissues).


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