Don’t be afraid to question science -- David Martin

January 23, 2019

I get a kick out of “Science is Real” yard signs. Do these signs mean all science is accurate? The signs remind me of Bill Murray’s humorous quote in “Ghostbusters”: “Back off, man. I’m a scientist.”

People displaying such signs likely have a strong opinion on something. And some probably seek only science that supports what they already think.

Unfortunately, scientists aren’t always correct. Scientists used to think that Earth was flat. Others believed the sun and stars revolved around Earth. And two centuries after Isaac Newton’s famous equation on gravity was published, Albert Einstein had to add a minor correction. In the late 1800s, a prominent person in the scientific community even concluded that just about everything was already discovered, noting that future discoveries would merely add a few decimal places to knowledge that was current at the time. But soon afterward, the discovery and development of quantum mechanics proved him wrong and ushered in lasers, semiconductors and computers.

Sure, today’s scientific means, methods and resources surpass those available years ago. But let’s not blindly assume all science is accurate, whether it’s in the field of medicine, human behavior, nutrition, economics, climate change or whatever. There is such a thing as bad science. Good science constantly seeks the truth.

So just because you’ve found science that supports what you think, don’t always believe the science. And maybe even question what you think.

David Martin, Madison

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