Thursday, February 18, 2010

Seal mummies have something to say

After I post this, I'm going to  begin indexing a book that has sentences in it like this: If f(nj(t) + 1) > f(ni(t)) for some j then the individual moves to the site that has the maximum value of f(nj(t) + 1). I love my work. I love science.*

Hostility toward science is almost a cultural norm in this nation. Research on fruit flies is considered mock-worthy, even when it produces insights into birth defects.

Why is science so reviled? One reason is that it is persistent in a vision that isn't self-centered. Copernicus knocked us out of the center of the universe, and Darwin knocked us off the ladder of beings, or at least made us share the same rung with meadowlarks and tapeworms, which are both the pinnacle of progress in their particular fields.

To quote the Animaniacs: "It's a great big universe and we're all really puny."

Another reason that science may be viewed with hostility is because it isn't dogmatic. When science is encountered by dogmatists, they may assume that it plays by the rules of dogmatism.  It doesn't. Science is always changing its mind. When it finds out something new, it doesn't ignore it or deny it. It takes note. It theorizes and hypothesizes. It systematically seeks out information--that is the nature of experimentation. Science has gone down some blind alleys in its discovery of the world, but, unlike the misguided seals that ended up mummified in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, it changes direction when the evidence warrants.

* I loved science so much I married it. Here is a picture of science getting his ear pierced in a hut in Antarctica.

He makes mistakes sometimes--like he didn't take enough photos of seal mummies, if you ask me. Knowing science as I do, I find the notion of a "conspiracy" of scientists devoted to promulgating lies really hilarious. Let's just leave it at that.
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