Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Scientific Method in Practice

I just finished watching the amazing NASA briefing on the new astrobiological discovery of Arsenic-Life.

Needless to say, I love the discoverer of this revelation (Felisa Wolfe-Simon), because her passion for science flows from her like sound waves from a Bose Stereo System. Plus, she shows an energy that's severely lacking in scientists when they get in front of the public. Instead of hearing Charlie Brown's mom, I heard an excited, passionate scientist who wants to engage the audience and public with the information. The closest similar example I can think of is Steve Squyres from the Mars rover project (Spirit and Opportunity).

If you want to understand the true nature of the scientific method, just listen to the way Felisa Wolfe-Simon describes her work, herself, collaboration, etc. during the NASA press conference, which I'm sure will be on YouTube soon enough. It's not about selfish gain, but selfless collaboration, working with others, questioning oneself in the pursuit of what I like to call, "the truth of the moment", because as it's now obvious, "truth" can change with new information.

In relation to this, some people scoff at an organization I support, the Venus Project, but sadly the majority of the ridicule comes from people who seem to have no experience, clue or reference to what a Resource Based Economy would function like, because they are very good at projecting today's broken values on a future construct, or they outright lie to try and validate their position through baseless name calling and idiocy.

The core "mantra", if you want to label it, of the Venus Project is, "The Scientific Method for Social Concern." Just look at how the world works today, with rampant greed and selfish self interest flooding our lives as though it's normal, and sadly some people actually think this is normal. Now contrast that to how a scientific mind works by looking at a statement made directly by Felisa during the press conference, "It will take an army of scientists, clearly not just myself or my team, but other people to bear on this problem with their tools and their ideas." I'd love to see a politician or any "expert" step up and be humble, encouraging collaboration as a truth, and not just giving it lip service.

I also like Steven Benner (the panel skeptic) and his awesome statement about civil disagreement between disciplines, but that none of the discussion is personal, and that the goal is to find the truth. Exceptional claims require exceptional evidence to support it. Science begins when you distrust experts. I think there are many political and financial "experts" we need to start distrusting. Maybe one day people will wake up to that fact.

For now, this discovery highlights the best parts of science, the scientific method, and how such rationale can and should be used as the method by which society is governed. The more science advances, the less we shall cling to old world folkways as means by which to govern ourselves, especially since those have failed time and time again, and are failing us all now.

The Scientific Method: In practice, in action, for the future.

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