Scientific Bias

I heard someone on the radio yesterday say, “That’s the scientific bias: If you don’t know what causes something, then it doesn’t exist.”

That is not the scientific bias. The scientific bias says no more and no less than, “If you don’t know why something is happening, then you should develop a hypothesis about why it’s happening and devise controlled experiments to test your hypothesis.”

This is not a bias; it is a model for separating plausible hypotheses from their opposite.

The unscientific bias, by contrast, says, “If I can’t clearly articulate my hypothesis, or testing my hypothesis would be difficult or impossible (because it depends on the existence of immaterial beings that cannot be detected by our senses or any instruments we may possess), then science must be wrong.”

You don’t have to be “scientific” or apply the scientific method to the problem you are hoping to solve.

Choosing not to follow this approach, however, does not vindicate your belief or highlight the shortcomings of a method you implicitly subscribe to every time you start your car, boot up your computer, or turn on your microwave.

It only shows that you have decided to eschew the truly scientific bias: rigor.

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2 Responses to Scientific Bias

  1. I’ve become increasingly fascinated and appalled by “alternative medicine” and all its weirdness. One of the lovely ironies is how much espousers of alt med appeal to science, but when real science is done that undermines their claims, they blame the science, and not their claims.

  2. admin says:

    When folks of that ilk, hawkers of spiritual wares of one variety or another, start running down science, I’m inclined to remark, “Well, you sure trusted science when drove your car here.”

    Also, may I take this opportunity to mention how much I appreciate that you take the time to read by stuff and even leave a comment or two? Thanks!

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