02 Jan '12, 7pm

Science, Faith and Progress (With and Without a Capital 'P')

Contrasting science with faith has long been a popular way to highlight the virtues of the scientific enterprise. But it is also in many ways a misleading comparison. “Faith” implies one particular sub-species of speculative inquiry, the kind associated with religion, but there is no enterprise of thought that does not involve speculation. By bundling all of these elements under the term “faith,” which is especially laden with negative connotations for learned people, scientists promulgate a prejudice that is in fact harmful to inquiry. This is because speculation is a serious aspect of every form of inquiry, science especially. Denigrating it does not eliminate it. It only makes people oblivious to their own “faith.” The easy association between science and progress is an excellent case in point. To call any discovery progress is to assess it in light of some standard of ...

Full article: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/02/science-fait...

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