Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Myths of science

David Boerner, Director General of the Geological Survey of Canada [right, GSC field work] offered a provocative view of science, based in part on work done by Daniel Sarewitz's Consortium for Science Policy and Outcomes at ASU. David described five 'myths:'

Myth of infinite benefits - that more science and technology automatically leads to more public good.

Myth of unfettered research - that any line of research is as good as any other in offering societal benefits.

Myth of accountability - that peer review and reproducibility are adequate controls on science.

Myth of authoritativeness - that scientific information is an objective basis for resolving political disputes.

Myth of endless frontier - that new knowledge at the scientific frontier is autonomous from moral and practical consequences to society.

David went into a brief rationale for each declaration but clearly all of them could generate an ongoing discussion/debate about the nature of science and its place as a human endeavor.

We could probably debate and argue over each of these for hours (days, weeks?). I hope he writes this presentation up with more explanation and wider distribution to foster wider dialogue in the community.

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