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"I am Proud to Be a Scientist"

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneySeptember 6, 2007 12:55 AM


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Last week climate scientist Andrew Dessler posted a review/blog entry about Storm World over at Gristmill. I really appreciated the final paragraph, showing that Dessler truly understood what I was trying to get across. Moreover the words are so quotable and resonant that I thought I'd share them with you:

Overall, I think this book helps pull back the curtain from science. Science is much messier and, frankly, less scientific than most people realize. Despite that, science is incredibly successful and, I believe, a force for good in this world, and I am proud to be a scientist.

Fellow Scibling Rob Knop also recently reviewedStorm World, and came to similar conclusions. As he writes:

Science does progress despite the acrimony and personal conflicts. The process is not pleasant, and some end up suffering greatly, but ultimately it does work.... ...Too many treatments of science oversimplify the connection between theory and experiment, and how easy the process of "falsification" is. Too many treatments of science make it appear that all ethical scientists will agree when the results of an experiment or observation indicate that their position is wrong. In reality, the results of experiment are rarely so obvious, and often ethical scientists with different approaches will disagree for a long time. The way science is described in this book is much more the way science works in the real world than the way many of us claim it works when trying to explain it to the general populace.

Exactly. My view is that even as we defend science and champion it, it doesn't do anyone any good to over-idealize it or shy away from its warts. We have to be honest about this thing we so love and treasure. It's not perfect, but it still works in the long run--and that's what's so truly amazing and admirable about it.

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