Sunday, June 22, 2014

Some Quotes from Scientists and Some Thoughts on Science, Scepticism, and Ridicule

"It is really quite amazing by what margins competent but conservative scientists and engineers can miss the mark, when they start with the preconceived idea that what they are investigating is impossible. When this happens, the most well-informed men become blinded by their prejudices and are unable to see what lies directly ahead of them."
- Arthur C. Clarke, 1963

Alas, some scientists do start with preconceived notion of "this cannot be, therefore it isn't". They may also ignore evidence for things that do not fit into their preconceived notions.

"Ridicule is not part of the scientific method, and people should not be taught that it is..."
- Dr. Josef Allen Hynek

Unfortunately, some so-called scientists and self-avowed rational sceptics do seem to include ridicule as part of their philosophy. Perhaps it's part of human nature. After all, science is a human endeavour. Some people seem to forget that. For some, science becomes almost a religion.
I've run into far too many rational sceptics and scientific atheists who act like science is infallible. They seem to forget that science involves humans conducting research and experiments and humans making observations.

"Science works on the frontier between knowledge and ignorance. We’re not afraid to admit what we don’t know – there’s no shame in that. The only shame is to pretend that we have all the answers."
- Neil deGrasse Tyson

Unfortunately, I believe some scientists and so-called scientific sceptics do pretend to have all the answers. This is especially true of certain so-called rational scientific atheists.

I have been told by at least one self-avowed "rational scientific sceptic" that I'm a "person who believes in odd things" because I happen to be a person who has experienced things that current science tends to scoff at, experiences that I have been unable to debunk or explain away, experiences that, in some instances, were witnessed by more persons than just myself. Even though I have a B.S. in Biology and worked for several years in science and health labs, I have been called a "person who doesn't understand how science works" for claiming these experiences were, for me, real experiences that prove to me there is more to the universe than what science currently recognises. I get sick of being told my observations made during these experiences are "unreliable' and "meaningless" when the observations I made in the lab identifying mould spores or aquatic invertebrates were, apparently, perfectly valid. My observations made while experiencing things current science refuses to recognise as real are meaningful to me. If that makes me a "person who believe in odd things" and a "person who doesn't understand how science works", so be it! I saw what I saw, I heard what I heard, I felt what I felt, and nothing any rational sceptic or sceptical scientist says to me will change those basic facts. It will not change the fact that I observed what I observed.

There are several subjects out there that many scientists won't touch with a ten foot pole. Those that do investigate these so-called "fringe" subjects are often seen as mavericks and might even face ridicule from their fellow scientists.

Want an example? I'll give you one off the top of my head: Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum. He has the audacity to actually investigate evidence for the existence of Sasquatch, which means he faces ridicule from some of his fellow scientists who have the pre-conceived notions that "it can't be, therefore, it isn't" and "it doesn't exist, therefore, there is no evidence".

Is it proper science to declare a subject as unworthy of further investigation before making a thorough examination of all the current evidence? Is it proper science to declare all that evidence non-evidence because whatever left that evidence behind cannot, must not, be real? I think not!

Questions about Meldrum's current reliability aside, when it comes to his investigations into possible existence of Sasquatch, I think he is doing exactly what a scientist should do - he's investigating, he's working "on the frontier between knowledge and ignorance".

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