The blinders of science


One of the great blinders of science stems from the burden of provability: if something is not scientifically provable, then it does not have objective existence, and it's labelled as "superstition".

There's a simple logical argument as to why this attitude is disadvantageous to the progress of humanity. At any point in time, human scientific knowledge is limited, as opposed to absolute. At various stages in history, scientists believed that they had indeed uncovered the "last" mystery of nature, only to be proven wrong when new facts were uncovered that contradicted established theories and required scientific paradigm shifts. Today, there is no reason to assume that this process of incremental discovery will ever end: the layers of nature are increasingly subtle and any technological advance - stemming from scientific thought - reveals new facts that don't necessarily fit within the current structures of our understanding.

Human knowledge does not only come from conscious scientific activity. In fact, observations that have been with us long before the scientific method existed, made by common people all over the world, are still unexplained scientifically today. The mind/body problem is an example, and various attempts at resolving it, such as materialism, mostly do so by refusing to acknowledge the evidence of non-physical reality, thereby relegating the mind and the soul to "superstition", against what the mass of humanity and common sense would agree to.

On one hand, we can understand where scientists are coming from. Their desire is perhaps to tread carefully, avoiding the pitfalls of dogmatic ideologies and religions that claimed to give ready-made answers that were used more as a mass control tool than as real explanation. Therefore, the prudent approach of repeatable experimentation, falsifiability and confirmation is essential to make sure we really know what's going on. However, now that science has become the dominant discourse concerning human knowledge, it is essential that it becomes inclusive, not exclusive. Especially concerning fringe areas that are yet un-experimentable, science should develop a method to include unproven conjectures instead of closing off whole branches of knowledge. Today, we humans are doomed to live in some sort of schizophrenic state where science acts as a reference in most physical situations, yet most fundamental questions are left unanswered, up for irrational debate, and most importantly considered as "outlawed" or "off-limits" for mainstream science - hardly a useful situation.

In my opinion, it is the responsibility of the scientific establishment, that claims to relentlessly seek the Truth, to be able to discuss all aspects of truth and falsity. Interestingly, philosophy might be the solution needed: a science of philosophy, with repeatable thought experiments (perhaps in the form of software programs?) would go a long way towards giving us the comfort that open questions that haunt humanity are amenable to logical discussion and eventually resolution.