More and more people are losing confidence in the reliability of search results and prefer to trust their instincts or alternative facts instead. High-level politicians deny the overwhelming evidence of man-made climate change, while in some social circles the persistent belief in the harm of vaccines and “Corona deniers” are publicly demonstrating against measures to contain the epidemic. How could he reach that?
What is good science?
Lee MacIntyre, a philosopher of science at the Boston University Center for Philosophy, searches in his book We Love Science for answers to questions of what constitutes good science and how it differs from other forms of knowledge generation.
In his opinion, every citizen should have a basic understanding of scientific facts. But although MacIntyre conveyed the argument efficiently, he is unlikely to reach “unscientific” readers – his writing simply took a lot of effort for it. In the beginning he laid the foundations of the philosophy of science with its protagonists such as Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn. Here the reader faces Popper’s famous request for the falsification of a scientific theory, the view that science is characterized by paradigm changes, and the delimitation problem, which is the question of how science can be distinguished from other than science. For example, if you claim that experimentation is essential to science, MacIntyre says disciplines such as geology and astronomy should be classified as non-scientific. On the other hand, if the search for empirical evidence is sufficient, this would include astrology and ethics.
After this difficult theoretical introduction, she continues more clearly. With the help of historical examples, the author answers questions such as: What do advocates of intelligent design (creation theory) not do, and what do serious scientists do? Why suspicion of climate change deniers unjustified? Because that’s the MacIntyre Doctrine: If you want to know what makes science different, you need to look at areas that don’t belong.
According to the author, science cannot be distinguished from other forms of knowledge acquisition in a special way, rather, the values and behavior of people who practice science are crucial factors. Above all, this includes a genuine interest in empirical evidence and a willingness to change one’s theory in light of new evidence. As a shining example of such a basic situation, MacIntyre offers the Viennese physician Ignaz Semmelweis, who, on the basis of empirical data, put forward a theory about the development of puerperal fever that still applies today and was hostile to his colleagues throughout his life. Life.
Why do scientists often fail to make this claim? At this point, MacIntyre goes to the greatest source of error, which is promoted by job pressure, competition, and pressure to publish. This includes selecting desired outcomes, keeping the experiment open until the desired outcome, fitting the curves, using very small samples, and treating the p-value as a measure of the significance of the outcome.