“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.
Specialization is for insects.”
― Robert A. Heinlein
One of my favorite authors keeps mentioning the 5-Minute Journal so I thought I’d check it out. Looks nice – and claims its effectiveness to be “proven by science.” The web page cites (but does not link to) a “multi-year project” by the University of California.
Again, the journal looks nice, and I take no exception to someone saying that journaling is beneficial. I don’t dispute that. My concern is with how easy it is for people to use “science” to justify anything these days.
Science is not a religion. Yet people seem to treat scientists and scholars as shamen. Is there a study? Well then, it’s proven by science! Only… not. Scientific proof is about more than a study’s result.
Let’s think about the buzzword from earlier this year: climate change. I’m sure that I can produce two, three – heck, half a dozen! – studies that “prove” that climate change is no cause for worry. I’m still worried about climate change. Why? Because there are about a hundred studies that say the opposite!
Science doesn’t have dogmas. It thrives on conflict. A study is meaningless – imperfect, and biased humans conduct it. You need many studies to average the errors and the biases out. You need papers that regularly and openly challenge the accepted theories.
(The studies that contradict climate change are excellent. Why? Because they point out possible flaws in the climate change studies. This, in turn, forces people to study the problem in greater detail.)
We should hold “proven by science” to that standard. Referring to a single study isn’t good enough.
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