Re: Pasteur and nature of science

From: Gordon Simons (
Date: Tue Jan 01 2002 - 18:37:47 EST

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    To my comments:

    > If I ever came to believe what you say about the relationship between
    > "observations and experiments" and "scientific knowledge," I would
    > abandon my career. I have been taught and believe that data
    > (observations) are the life-blood of science, and that I have a moral
    > responsibility to handle, report, and, where possible, interpret data
    > with both care and honesty.

    Wayne writes:

    > Respectfully,

    > Maybe YOU are somehow different, but if science was so
    > apolitical, would Boltzmann have refrained from committing
    > suicide? His ideas have strongly influenced moderned physics,
    > but the "establishment" sure showed their "unbiased" and
    > "welcoming" attituded toward unfamiliar ideas in that
    > situation.
    > A little reading into the history of science
    > does not speak well for the lives and experiences
    > of many of the original thinkers we greatly respect
    > and admire today and probably never will. and no
    > need to jump on the PoMo bandwagon for that.

    For those interested in Boltzmann's situation, you might wish to check out

    Several things seem evident:

    1. Boltzmann depression was only partially related to difficulties in
    having his ideas accepted. It appears plausible that he was bipolar.

    2. His radically new ideas were initially met with some strong opposition.

    3. His ideas were eventually vindicated and accepted.

    While "scientific acceptance" of his views were initially affected "by a
    variety of factors (incl. politics, religion, personality, various
    background beliefs, aesthetic commitments, etc), "scientific knowledge"
    was eventually resolved on the basis of "observations and experiments."

    So I really do not see how the Boltzmann example validates Ted Davis'

    I should add, that I never asserted that the practice of science is
    apolitical. The practice of science is a human endeavor, and, as such, it
    is influenced by many things including politics. But this reality does not
    establish the source of "scientific knowledge." In the end, scientific
    knowledge is resolved by objective standards: observations and

    Gordon Simons

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