Re: [asa] Origins of Life

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Sat Jun 06 2009 - 08:54:12 EDT

Hi Merv and Mike,
Though it may be difficult to claim that one is <knowledgeable> simply because one is a scientist, it certainly makes sense that there is a fine line between giving critics of science more things to criticise and expressing the element of wonder and lack of knowledge as it is sometimes involved in doing science.
I understand your point, Merv, but what you,re presenting can be seen as a <romantic view of science.> Much science, as it is done, is not eureka moments, and bafflement, and imagination. It is day to day data collection, experimentation, repetition, documentation, classification, observation, etc. The majority of scientists don,t actually contribute much at all to <scientific progress>. Lakatos spoke about the innovators being roughly 7 per cent of scientists. Would anyone out there choose to argue with him?
Certainly being curious is consistent with doing science, and also the dream of wanting to know more, that the world is both rational and mysterious, etc. But being baffled may be a compliment restricted more to the cutting edge than to the run-of-the-mill scientist.
This tack may also give pause to argue with the <brights> or <new atheists> that wonder and curiosity about the universe, nature, humanity (and God) is not restricted to <doing science>. In fact, this card should be played often, instead of suggesting that <scientists simply *are* knowledgeable>. The humble scientist approach can sometimes be seen demonstrated at ASA. It may be that in revealing the limits of science, as far as they currently exist, one will meet with better results that disarm the anti-science crew and that appeal to the everyday person on the street.
Most people on the street are baffled about many things too!
(en route to Vilnius)

--- On Sat, 6/6/09, <> wrote:

From: <>
Subject: Re: [asa] Origins of Life
To: "Nucacids" <>
Received: Saturday, June 6, 2009, 4:18 PM

Quoting Nucacids <>:

> Now you can see how all this might get a bit delicate given the current
> debate about intelligent design. Hazen knows that by exposing the backstage
> bickering on the origin of life, he may give ammunition to the critics of the
> scientific community: "Anything I say that shows any uncertainty or doubt,
> they will use as evidence that scientists are baffled.""

"Being baffled" is and has always been a baseline for normal science process.
If nobody was ever baffled at least temporarily, nobody would be on the cutting
edge of science.  Science is a process of starting with "bafflement" and trying
to de-baffle yourselves.  And any success with that will only bring you to the
next stage of bafflement with the new questions that surface.   And so the cycle
must go if science is to continue.  If that cycle ever stops, science has stopped.


To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Sat Jun 6 08:54:35 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sat Jun 06 2009 - 08:54:35 EDT