Ethan Siegel (@StartsWithABang) March 08, 2016
Ethan Siegel has written a must-read article defending the scientific process in the Forbes science section (No, Science is Not Faith-Based). Siegel takes on an inflammatory and misinformed claim from Matt Emerson that science is faith-based (Wall Street Journal). Emerson’s claim was related to the recent detection of gravitational waves by LIGO. Siegel, a trained astrophysicist, clearly explains why the claim that science has anything to do with faith is completely non-scientific. Read the full-article here, my favorite parts below:
Faith, by definition, is the belief in something despite insufficient knowledge to be certain of its veracity.
Yet in every case, there are two key components that make the prediction scientific:
- The prediction, or the belief that the outcome can be accurately predicted, is predicated on the existence of quality evidence.
- As the evidence changes — as we obtain more, newer and better evidence — and as the full suite of evidence expands, our predictions, postdictions and entire conceptions of the Universe change along with it.
There is no such thing as a good scientist who isn’t willing to both base their scientific belief on the full suite of evidence available, nor is there such a thing as a good scientist who won’t revise their beliefs in the face of new evidence.
I have a family member that teases me because I always ask about the evidence behind claims, assertions, etc. I guess years spent on a science PhD and postdoc will engrain a desire for evidence in you, but that desire has nothing to do with faith…