November 30, 2009

Quote: Henry Gee about science and truth

Right now a graduate course in statistics is taking up a lot of my time, so this quote seems only appropriate.

... it is not the business of science to discover 'truth', because 'truth' cannot be judged to be such, in any absolute way. To put it another way, were we to stumble upon the 'truth' we could never know that we had done so.

What science is all about, in contrast, is the quantification of doubt.

It is doubt, friends, that fuels science: the testing of hypotheses; the subjection of scientific ideas, grant applications, papers and presentations, to exacting scepticism [sic].

Henry Gee is a palaeontologist and evolutionary biologist as well as a senior editor at Nature. This quote come from a blog post at Nature network, in itself a response to a blog post by David Sloan Wilson called Science as a Religion that Worships Truth as its God. They're both worth reading.

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