It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Science is Something that People Do

A delightful essay by Dennis Overbye appears in the NYTimes today. 
Science is not a monument of received Truth but something that people do to look for truth.

That endeavor, which has transformed the world in the last few centuries, does indeed teach values. Those values, among others, are honesty, doubt, respect for evidence, openness, accountability and tolerance and indeed hunger for opposing points of view. These are the unabashedly pragmatic working principles that guide the buzzing, testing, poking, probing, argumentative, gossiping, gadgety, joking, dreaming and tendentious cloud of activity — the writer and biologist Lewis Thomas once likened it to an anthill — that is slowly and thoroughly penetrating every nook and cranny of the world.

Nobody appeared in a cloud of smoke and taught scientists these virtues. This behavior simply evolved because it worked.
Highly recommended.


gravityloss said...

A motivation for more open source climate models and alltogether more open documentation in computational sciences...?

It is of course a hard problem, for various reasons...

Michael Tobis said...

Maybe with the money starting to flow again it will be possible for the main climate labs to address these problems more effectively.

tidal said...

This is a little o/t, but the old thread is probably closed, and just wanted to point out an article in last Sunday's Boston Globe that discusses Eric Chiasson's "other global warming", which you pointed us to last year in the AGU journal. Thanks for all your efforts. I also really appreciate "mt's shared items."

bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...

It's sad that climate inactivists have co-opted the language of "honesty, doubt, respect for evidence, openness, accountability and tolerance and indeed hunger for opposing points of view" to sell their dishonest, unquestioning, unaccountable, intolerant, and self-satisfied disrespect for evidence that they don't like.

The trappings of the "scientific method", without the substance.

Perhaps what the Free World can do with (in addition to climate models) is an open-source project to separate the real scientists from the poseurs?