cultural myths and misery

S.K. Harrison skh23ca at
Fri Dec 14 15:47:19 EST 2001

> From: Brent Ladd <laddb at>

> Toby Hemenway wrote:
> >  I have no data to prove that scientists, in
> > general,  are more committed to "truth" than
> > others, though it's not unreasonable to
> > believe that a passion for science may select
> > for this. But I think that science, as a
> > profession, lends itself to truthfulness more
> > than marketing or other jobs dedicated to
> > increasing the size and power of an
> > organization.
> Who's "truth"? Universal truth? is there one?

No, Toby does not appear to be talking about
"universal truths". Scientists do not deal with
absolutisms like that. They deal with the
relative invariance of a few specific observable
patterns, as discovered in a particular
organization for a limited purposes--and which
findings, if accessible to others, remain open
for future refutation.

> I usually find myself and others' espousing
> truth from their own perspective-and alas this
> is the best most of us can do most of the time-
> and here is where bias enters the picture-we
> all have one. I wish my experience with science
> had been as good as yours, Toby.
<snipped lots of examples of intentional
interference with science>

Thanks for these examples. I do not know the
extent to which I can take them as
representative, nonetheless, I did appreciate
hearing about them.

> Science (and good experimental design and
> statistical analysis) is indeed a powerful tool
> for helping to sort out many "what if's and
> how's". But, it is only one tool of many ways
> of knowing.

Can you give some examples of these other ways of


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