Monday, April 23, 2012

Quantifying Ignorance

Judith Curry's Climate etc. site has a post on "Ignorance: The Engine of Science", discussing the latest junk-food science book recommended by Curry, to which I respond here, with what I have learned, in my lifetime of experience, to be trustworthy information on this subject:

According to Firestein [the author of the book, and a ranking academic, of course]:
"Working scientists don’t get bogged down in the factual swamp because they don’t care all that much for facts."
------Nonsense, he should say they don't care much for what others TELL them are facts (if they are good scientists); they know they have to verify the facts for themselves if they want to KNOW the facts.

"Being a scientist requires having faith in uncertainty,"
------No it doesn't, not at all; it requires having faith that you CAN LEARN and UNDERSTAND any and all processes in the physical universe. Being a scientist requires QUANTIFYING uncertainty, as probability of occurrence, and the general failure to do that (to be ABLE to do that, while staying within the bounds of current, central theories that are so uncertain, i.e. improbable, that they are, or should be, patently false) is the very foundation of the current crisis of incompetence in science. Uncertainty is not your friend; it is the acid that will eat away all of your pretended, false "knowledge".

"Science, then, is not like the onion in the often used analogy of stripping away layer after layer to get at some core, central, fundamental truth. Rather it’s like the magic well: no matter how many buckets of water you remove, there’s always another one to be had."
------Sure, along with a proliferation of hypotheses that allow you to ignore that there IS a central, fundamental truth in every investigation. There is in the end NO MAGIC whatsoever (so get that out of your head once and for all, whether you want to be a scientist or not).

"So I tried to imagine what it was that was exciting in the lab that wasn’t exciting in the course."
-------The excitement--no, the transcendant experience, beyond mere excitement--is in finding the answer yourself, instead of being stuffed with other peoples' "answers", which are increasingly NOT real answers, in science today, but only covered-up ignorance.

Firestein knows squat about real science. Why do you keep looking outside of yourself, when the answer you NEED is within?

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