Thursday, April 28, 2011

Faith in Science

One of the real challenges of putting faith in something called "Science" is that what we understand as science changes regularly. It doesn't change a little, but whole world views are formed and created and hopelessly redefined every generation. It's not just pseudoscience or soft science, but even the great grandaddy everyone aspires to be has this problem.

PhD Comics brings us a discussion with physicists about dark matter. You can read the individual pages or watch the animated version. They share how they have recently discovered that really we only know about 5% of what is out there and we have a guess that we don't understand at all about another 20%. 75% of what is out there we have "no idea" about. "We are only now beginning to realize what the questions are we should be asking." We have been looking at the elephant's tail this entire time and "you should be ready for some surprises."

This is great. This is why science is cool and interesting. It's also why it's very difficult to put a total reliance in any answer that any paper or even any consensus among real, hardcore scientists gives us. If we are only beginning to [think we] understand the questions we should be asking after more than 2700 years of exploration and 100 years after the birth of modern physics, we ought to be more humble about what we think we know, particularly when dealing with questions science cannot even begin to answer.

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