Sunday, February 10, 2008

Scientific Thinking

You could be forgiven for thinking that scientists would count among our best thinkers given that they are champions of the 'scientific method'. But actually I would make the assertion that scientific thinking is actually often dubious at best and sometimes even poor.
The problem with the way scientists think is that:
1. Empiricism: They tend to recognise only empirical evidence as a basis for determining the scientific veracity of a hypothesis. They totally disregard deduction as a means of testing hypotheses. This leads to the unsavioury attitude that a hypothesis is wrong or of no merit because it has not been tested. The implication is that any idea that breaks with conventional wisdom is thus rejected out of hand. This is not simply conservatism in the face of peripheral knowledge. This book has been in the market more than 10 years. I see it as scientists undermining the standing of deductive thinking.
2. Rationalism: There is a tendency for people without critical thinking skills to rationalise. Ignorance is of course another basis for rationalisation, whether from deduction or induction. This is particularly more likely in specialised fields of scientific inquiry. Critical thinking is closely associated with deductive reasoning, but I would suggest that it also requires a 'healthy scepticism.

By 'healthy skepticism' I dont mean doubt as to the veracity of scientific conclusions, but rather a thinking process that imposes on new ideas a counter argument. Within my character is a tendency to question everything I think about. That is a basis of several things:
1. Contingencies - what things could happen - forecasting insights, things that could go wrong
2. Testing hypotheses - are there any contradictions
3. Alternative routes - Is there a better way of doing it

To a lot of people that makes me a 'negative' person to be around. But the implications are stark. I solve problems better than anyone I know. Been able to do that since a very young age. I get so many ideas, and I am sorry too few make it to my blog at

An example of the way that science has disparaged good ideas is the example of Dr Peter J. D'Adamao. Read about his observation here. Deductively I would suggest there is alot of merit in his scientific work, though I would accept that more work is required.
Andrew Sheldon
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