Inside knowledge: What makes scientific knowledge special

 作者:竺漏     |      日期:2019-03-01 09:15:01
Alamy By Michael Brooks NULLIUS in verba: “take nobody’s word for it”. The motto of the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science, encapsulates the spirit of scientific enquiry. Do an experiment, record its outcome faithfully and objectively, and make that record available for doubters. This way of working means that, if knowledge is defined as the route to the truth (see “Knowledge: What separates fact from belief“), science is an expressway to enlightenment. Thanks to what science tells us about human physiology, the universe’s history, nature’s forces and Earth’s geology, flora and fauna, we know Earth isn’t flat, the universe is nearly 14 billion years old, and that there are no dragons or unicorns. We live longer and in more comfort, and can send space probes to the edge of the solar system. Pretty darn special, huh? But let’s take a more sceptical look, starting with that “we”. Some people do believe Earth is flat. Others say the universe is 6000 years old. Some doubt the theory of evolution by natural selection, or the reality of human-made climate change. We is not everyone. It is tempting to say that’s their problem, not science’s. But science is also limited in what it can say. It can’t prove a negative: there might be dragons and unicorns, a monster in Loch Ness,