The Other I

October 11, 2010

Suspicious minds

I think I’m beginning to understand why so many people don’t believe anything we are told  – whether it’s by governments or the media or science or religious leaders.

Every single one of these institutions have claimed to be presenting “facts,” when far more often it is opinion, spin, best guess, doctrine, a mistake, ignorance, or sheer self-serving lies.

If we could just put our faith in the validity of something it would at least give us something firm to hold onto.  But that’s not on offer.

Even science and scientists themselves often offer more than they have a right to claim.  Scientific facts are not infallible, are not eternal truths, and if scientists admitted this more often, they may appear more credible.

If scientists were more candid about the nature of scientific “facts,” it may be more of a challenge for people to argue that the universe is no more than ten thousand years old, that the dinosaurs did not die out 65 million years ago, or that evolution is a myth concocted by the Communists.  Because the argument would not be based on “eternal truth” but on reasonable conclusions based on empirical evidence.

For instance, most scientists in the mid-19th century were convinced that our earth was about 5,000 years old at the most.  Less than 150 years ago, physicists, applying the laws of thermodynamics, were sure that the sun could not burn more than 40 million years and that the earth would soon cool and die with the already-waning sun.  It was not until 1956 that the true age of the solar system was known.  It was barely more than ten years ago that scientists realized that the entire universe is just over 13 billion years old.  Not several thousand.  Or several hundred thousand years.  Or even several million years, as they had previously thought.

Being a little more candid that scientific facts change with the evidence available to us might even make it more difficult not to take global warming seriously.

In other words, it might make our suspicions are little less superstitious and a little more realistic.



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