There were many great ancient civilizations… who spent time worshiping the moon. We went there. Because of the Scientific Method.
With all due respect to my brilliant liberal arts friends who like to discuss scientific topics, remember: honor the scientific method. Beware the bandwagon. Today’s discovery puts the lie to yesterday’s consensus. The Earth travels around the Sun – and scientists with prestigious careers invested in a consensus will object the loudest.
When science is treated as given, unquestionable, and supremely authoritative, Sun-like in its obviousness, then it ceases to be science at all and becomes something closer to religious decree. The motto of the U.K. Royal Society, which helped to found the Science Museum 100 years ago, was “On the word of no one,” capturing science’s rejection of traditional forms of wisdom and authority and its embrace of experimentation, exploration, and the authority of the truth alone.
John Derbyshire also covers this subject very well. Here’s are two excerpts from a column of his entitled “Blind Science“:
Not all facts are plain, unfortunately, and scientists are subject to the same temptations as the rest of us. Given a mass of very approximate data that can be made to fit different interpretations, and given further the offer of a fat research grant from some U.N. agency or left-wing foundation, on the understanding that the interpretation likely to inspire further such grants will be the one that best accords with fashionable political dogmas, scientists prove to be as corruptible and capable of self-delusion as any absinthe-swilling Eloi, as the current controversy over global warming illustrates. …Nor does it help that much science is done in the academy, where the poisonous vapors of campus claptrap waft even into the physics lab.
Science, understood in its proper modesty—Roger Kimball quotes Matthew Arnold’s phrase about “the tone of tentative inquiry, which befits a being of dim faculties and bounded knowledge”—is on the side of the angels. A proper respect for the calm disciplines of “-scopy” and “-metry” (that is, of observation and measurement) is an essential attribute of the civilized mind. It is not given to us to know very much about the inner workings of the world. That we know anything at all about them is miraculous.