Meditations on Gratitude – Science
Hypothesis, Argue, Repeat
Debate, logic and rhetoric are wonderful things. They are the tools by which we capture hearts and minds. They are the nuts and bolts of leadership, politics, and philosophy. They are my tool kit for writing this article. I love them dearly and do not wish them vanquished. But what benefit do they have to offer? Are they calibrated for goodness or for truth? Do they produce facts (setting aside the argument on the Socratic Method). Do they create buildings, feed the hungry, or guarantee freedom and justice?
No. In fact they are very much like nuts and bolts, indifferent to the uses they are put to. Gandhi and Martin Luther King used these skills masterfully to produce great good. However, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, deftly used them to justify the murder and oppression of millions. High School coaches and politicians alike use these tools to stir our hearts or manipulate them.
I am grateful for these things, but also wary of them.
Hypothesis, Test, View Results, Adjust, Repeat
The scientific method however operates at a more fundamental level and can be calibrated for good. It operates on the assumptions that feed the rhetoric machines. Its articulation and use has produced great progress, prosperity, and peace. It has indirectly produced harm, but contains the seeds of self correction within itself.
From turbines, to the internal combustion engine, to hybrid cars. The scientific method has produced the carriages that have propelled us to a better standard of living and increased peace and stability. We’ve also been able to use it to correct the consequences of progress. Identifying pollution as a negative side effect and spurring new designs (and experiments) that reduce car emissions and increase efficiency.
The scientific method has also been critical in reducing the impact of rhetoric, by exposing false assumptions, supporting correct ones, and measuring the impact of new ideas.
In know that my children will live a better life than mine and in many ways science will play a part in that. I’m am deeply grateful for science.