Progression and Meaning Doubt as a necessity

Mack Hutsell

Alex Liu, Cayla Amparan, Navi Chawla

April 6, 2017 - April 12, 2017

AOK Badge: Natural Science

AOK Paragraph: Prove doubt is a necessity to science


Regardless of advancement in the natural sciences, doubt can never be 100% extinguished, nor should it be. In “Ignorance: How it Drives Science”, Stuart Firestein addresses the commonly misunderstood relationship between science and doubt. He explains using an analogy- scientists are simply stumbling around in a dark room searching for a black cat, and they are not even confident a black cat is in the room- in order to illustrate the true nature of scientific work. Doubt signifies an improving society. A community that has no doubt has no black cat left to stumble upon. Therefore, if science and progress are reliant on doubt, it is clear that doubt should never be 100% extinguished.

Natural Science Journals:

April 6th:

Today we learned about Natural Science and took a quiz. There are some interesting implications involved in Natural Science. Many view science as the utmost in knowledge as it is what improves our comfort in life, and often allows for us to be able to continue living. This raises some interesting questions such as: Can some knowledge be more valuable than other knowledge? Is science the best AOK?

These questions are easily answered, but they are difficult to explain. It is easy to decide that some knowledge is more valuable than other knowledge, but examining why you really believe that some knowledge is more valuable causes doubt. Parallel to this, it is easy to brush off the idea that Natural Science as an AOK is the best, but when actually examining the reasoning, it is harder to justify that claim. How could an area of knowledge that allows for life be anything less than the best?

April 10th:

Today we began to plan our paragraph. I think I am going to choose the question, "Is doubt an enemy of science". This question is interesting for a couple reasons. In answering for the affirmative, it can be argued that as removing doubt is a goal of science, it must naturally be an enemy; however, in responding, it is clear that doubt provokes and drives science. Without doubt we would be sure, and with absolute confidence comes absolute knowledge, meaning that the existence of doubt is essential to the existence of science. I think my paragraph will be trying to prove that doubt is not an enemy of science, and instead it is a benefactor. For example, surgery aims to fix problems in the human body, but those problems can not be the enemy of surgery as they are what merit its existence.

Elective Reading Journal #1:

I read Jane Goodall's writing on Chimpanzees and intelligence. In the natural science community, it was heavily debated as to how we can distinguish ourselves from other species, and therefore justify treating them worse. All of the movement forward in understanding the similarities between Chimpanzees and Humans has raised a lot of ethical questions as to whether or not we should use them for experiments. How can we justify treating an animal that thinks the same as us worse? Based on the answer to this question, it is then much harder to know whether or not we can mistreat other animals, who don't think similar to us, but are still living beings. Jane Goodall seems very against using Chimpanzees in testing.

Elective Reading Journal #2:

Today I read the first chapter of "Ignorance: How it drives Science", in this book the author talks about how ignorance is actually the driving force of science. He addresses the common misunderstanding that science is full of data and answers and confidence when in reality it is guesses, or as he describes it "fumbling for a black cat in a dark room". This reading was interesting because it is impossible to understand Natural Sciences without first understanding the idea of research and learning as difficult and primarily full of guesses.

Questions Raised:

If doubt is essential to science, is science the enemy?

If humans get rid of doubt will science ever disappear?

Extension Proposal:

"Is our universe the only universe?" is a really interesting metaphysical TED Talk that shows us questions that have caused doubt for centuries, always driving science.


Created with images by skeeze - "vials science liquids"

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