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The wrong kind of science?

12 Nov

This article was written for the Subrosa Blog and is reproduced here with permission.

Science has been an increasingly important part of the development of the human race. In facts it’s reached the stage where if it isn’t scientific it shouldn’t be done. This has unfortunately resulted in science being somewhat derailed for three specific reasons –

  1. A lot of science has become political.
  2. There’s far too much “rent seeking” going on.
  3. The peer review system is being abused.

It’s become political because the government funds a lot of research either through it’s own departments or through funding through Universities or other government bodies and quangos

Rent seeking is a natural phenomenon unfortunately, which gathers pace when a recession hits. How many times have you heard the following said or seen it written – “ our results show X but more work is required to find out more. A lot?

The Peer Review system has been demonstrated as being manipulated. The Climate Gate emails quite clearly show scientists making sure that their research will be reviewed in a positive manner whilst those of other persuasions work will not make it through.

As with all things thankfully, there are a large number of scientists who work diligently and honestly and stick to scientific ethics and morality and also use the scientific method to ensure their work is open to questioning and scrutiny.

Perhaps however, there is another factor, which we should consider. Is science as it stands at the moment the right way to do things? By that I mean – I wonder about the actual tried and tested methodologies in place and also the culture in which science has evolved. Is it right? Is the need to describe science in mathematical language right? Could it be the case that the science of the West is too inflexible which could mean that important discoveries are being missed or not even explored? Is our mathematics capable of describing things, which do not fit with science?

I’ve read more than once about the question of Yes v No in science. In Western science there is only a yes or no answer to experimentation. So what happens to maybe or perhaps? They are discarded and the original wording of the experiment changed before carrying out further experimentation to establish a definitive Yes or No. “Maybe” and “perhaps” may need more research. Rent seekers apply now.

Within science itself there are arguments which rage back and forward. The consensus is not the place to be although it is the science establishment. Evidence shows that major steps forward are by individuals. Tectonic plates for example and their movement over the eons was not recognised by the consensus until the mid 1970s. Now every school student who took the time to look at a world map would immediately realise that the continents looked like jigsaw pieces which on the whole, could be realigned to fit fairly snuggly together. But the consensus scientists refuted this well past the point where their judgement really needed seriously looking at.

Let’s not go anywhere near the scam, which is global warming and their Playstation and Xbox models. The tide turned some time ago and reckoning is bound to catch up with that area od science sooner rather than later.

Let me provide you with a short example of why it’s sometimes better to go outside the envelope and do your own thing.

I know a guy a good few years ago that had been something big in the city. He traded bits of paper for a number of years and made more than a small fortune. He invested some of his money on a very remote house and decided to take up computer programming. He had little if any knowledge of programming and learned by mucking about basically.

Within a short period of time he came up with a software package, which was aimed at remote education delivery. The market was gobsmacked. There was nothing like it at all, even remotely.  He signed a deal with a couple of guys who did the marketing and selling of it and he made even more money.

Phone him up or go and see him? Only if you were prepared to be shouted at and ignored if you did those at the wrong time. Social he wasn’t. He’s still working away. He’s created other stuff since. All with no training, help, support or real knowledge.

I’m not saying that this is how things should be done but there’s room for his approach. There’s always room to question what is established. There’s always room to try a different approach. In Scotland we have a history of people like that as do may other countries in the world.

We could do with many, many more.

No doubt when one comes along another follows very quickly.

Just like buses.

Just don’t mention trams though.

Please?

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