Saturday, August 4, 2012

Evidence & Theory Explained - Revisited

The other day I posted the Evidence & Theory Explained illustrations to easily explain how science works. If you haven’t checked it out go ahead and come back. I’ll wait...

Pretty neat, huh? Of course the lack of scientific literacy and, quite frankly the willful rejection of it in some people is so strong that they believe this representation to be a negative for science. For instance, I saw the evidence and theory pictures on a young Malaysian woman’s Google+ profile. She was obviously scientifically literate, but being from Malaysia she knew many Muslims. Hijinks ensured. 

Aabir made his point. I rejected it. He implied that I have cognitive dissonance, right before launching into Islamic confirmation bias or really just the ol’ "Science is dumb! Allah/YHWH/name your deity is good!” shtick. Whatever. I didn’t notice for several hours that he had responded and anyway I don’t bother arguing with people that don’t want to get it. So I just posted the comment “The cake is a lie.” which thoroughly confused everyone in the thread and I walked away.

/mic drop

Anyway, all kidding aside, I really like this depiction as it truthfully admits asserts the limitations of science. It isn’t perfect, but that is the point. Nothing is perfect, but it is such a damn good methodology to come up with explanations and theories that are very likely correct. If not, they will be replaced when something better comes along.

I just wanted to point out the challenge in being honest about the scientific method. Many people just don’t get it or worse refuse to get it. They see this methodology as a weakness. It’s too fluid. It changes too much. Much of time you can’t actually “prove anything.” To them the “Truth” could be a square, a rectangle or even a circle. Whatever it is supposed to be, they “know” what it is. They have no real way of knowing it. They have no way of proving it. They have been told about it, but they themselves are only certain that the circle exists on faith. There is no methodology to faith. It cannot disprove another faith. It is, for all intents and purposes, useless.

Conversely, someone with a skeptical or naturalistic mind sees the “Our Theory” pentagon and wonders what shape it really is. What would take to fill in those gaps? We know it isn’t complete. Could it be a circle? What if it was an equilateral triangle? Better try and figure that out with minimal assumptions.  Let’s get to work.