When seeking the truth we turn to science, because science is based on facts and therefore should always be right; isn’t it? Well, yes and no.
What exactly is science?
According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, science is, “(knowledge from) the careful study of the structure and behaviour of the physical world, especially by watching, measuring, and doing experiments, and the development of theories to describe the results of these activities: pure/applied science, recent developments in science and technology, Space travel is one of the marvels/wonders of modern science.” and that ‘the science’ is “the facts and opinions that are provided by scientists who have studied a particular subject or situation“
Can Science be wrong?
That is an unequivocal answer of YES. The Scientific American journal says, “Sometimes Science Is Wrong. Research is a self-correcting process, but that fact is often lost on the public” You just have to look back through history and you’ll find many cases where something has been ‘proven’ by scientific methods, only to be shown as incorrect later. You can see throughout history scientists disagreeing with each other.
But why is that, surely science is based on facts?
According to the Cambridgeshire English Dictionary, a fact is, “something that is known to have happened or to exist, especially something for which proof exists, or about which there is information“.
From my point of view, and I am certainly no scientist and do not claim to be right as this is all just my personal view, there are at least a couple of problems.
One is that in many cases human beings can interpret results in different ways. Take statistics for instance. We all know Mark Twain wrote, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” But what does that mean? In Psychology Today they say that, “when read in context, it is clear Twain isn’t arguing that statistics are just another form of lying. Rather Twain is warning that statistics that aren’t sufficiently complex can be misleading.” I just have to look at the two different Covid-19 statistics for where I live and I am totally confused as to what they can mean (and simply can’t believe them!).
Then you have the fact that science can only be based on what is known at the time of the research. Many years ago I studied canine genetics. What I researched and what was known back then has changed. With new knowledge it is now known that some things were not correct. This is where the above point comes in, that “Research is a self-correcting process“. What was correct yesterday might very well be proven wrong tomorrow when further information is found.
So, where does this leave us?
It boils down to the fact that the truth on certain things can be nigh impossible to find. Today, you have scientists, doctors and other professionals going against the mainstream (as has happened in the past). Does that mean they’re wrong? NO! But unfortunately if you go against the mainstream, or the Government, you are hamstrung; articles could be distributed saying you’re a fake and saying things about you that were not true, or reporting things you didn’t say; you can lose your membership of professional bodies; you can be struck off a register so you can no longer work in your profession; you could lose a grant for, say, important research that you were promised and much more.
No, searching for the truth is not easy. Me? Well I’m simply listening to all arguments and going with my gut as to which I believe.