Raza on Crick

From 3quarksdaily, Abbas Raza talks about the role aesthetics play when scientists seek explanations: Francis Crick’s beautiful mistake.

One Response to “Raza on Crick”

  1. ymatt Says:

    This just reads like post-modernism without the obfuscating vocabulary:

    Many scientists don’t know what they are doing. That is, they are so immersed in science, that they often do not step outside it for a wider philosophical perspective on what it is they do, while remaining convinced that science is somehow more correct than other ways of doing things.

    No, I believe science really is more correct and philosophy has no place in it. Raza seems to suggest that science relies on the sensibilities of scientists — that their western way of thinking or personal notions of beauty will twist the science. This is nonsense. The only hard principle on which science relies is consistency. When a theory is not consistent with measured reality, it must be modified or discarded. If we’re going to call the consistency itself merely a construct of western thought or somesuch, I’m not sure what there is anything left in the world that can be considered absolute.

    Notions of beauty do however enter into extrapolative theory. A scientist may see an imcomplete set of data and intuit a wider theory based on its simplicity or beauty. Certainly personal biases can be introduced in this way. But it is critical to remember that a theory only endures if it is consistent with the world around us! Even the basic “laws” of science would have to be discarded if we found evidence to contradict them.

    Extrapolative theory is still immensely important to science however. There is an infinte amount of data that can be taken and Occam’s Razor very often holds true: the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. The simple, elegant, beautiful theories are frequently borne out by supporting data. Others, such as Crick’s, are discarded. But as Raza notes, more data eventually showed that the correct theory was just as elegant, but more complete.

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