The model of scientific knowledge

Science is based on observable events (that can be replicated). This constitutes empirical knowledge.

These sentences are going to be quite short, because, as I type, I am thinking quite hard…

What science cannot observe – they dismiss. Thus we have people like Professor Brian Cox, calling things he cannot empirically prove, ‘woo-woo’. I quite liked the way Cox presented his knowledge on the television for a while, until he overused the word woo-woo and was dismissive of anyone who had a belief, or belief system, based on non-scientific paradigms.

It’s like when Professor Stephen Hawking claimed that ‘philosophy was dead.’

Don’t get me wrong, I like science. I even read the New Scientist sometimes, although I can’t claim to understand it all. What I don’t like is the idea that science trumps philosophical thought, or spiritual faith, because it consists of observable phenomena.

If we allow this idea to prevail, aren’t we limiting ourselves to what we can perceive with our own senses. Hasn’t science shown us that some of our own senses are distinctly lacking when compared with, say, a bat, or a lizard? Didn’t the Copernican revolution show us that it is the position of the observer, or the act of observing, that influences the outcome of the observation? Doesn’t science fall short when trying to understand the behaviour of unobserved particles in the double slit experiment? Therefore couldn’t we speculate that it is also our position as unobservers (what we cannot see or sense) that makes us resist so much that is unobserved but tangible on some level: a level that lives outside our five sensory realms – what might partially fall into the category of metaphysics

Are we using a limiting model when we insist on science being only based on observation? Isn’t empirical evidence a bit woo-woo too? After all, if I own a big pharmaceutical company I can pretty much commission scientific research to empirically prove what I like. And my rival can do the same. And then what, when the science is contradictory, as it sometimes is? Is it a co-incidence that Einstein came up with a theoretical model, not one based on lab work. Isn’t the whole universe a laboratory if only we are sufficiently mentally unshackled to move beyond the limits of our five scientifically-proven senses? How many senses do we really have. What about your gut or your heart intuition or neurons, for example. What about energy fields?

I don’t know. It’s just something I’m thinking about. What goes on outside the observable field of human experience might be far more amazing that the stuff the anti woo-woo merchants peddle (and that – classical science – is pretty amazing in itself).


Posted on July 21, 2013, in Science and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Woo-woo (or just plain woo) refers to ideas considered irrational or based on extremely flimsy evidence or that appeal to mysterious occult forces or powers.

  2. There are numerous woo ideas surrounding the brain, psychology, and neuroscience, often pejoratively referred to as “neuromythology.” These are largely misinterpretations of actual science by pop psychology or New Age types trying to jam some kind of mysticism into fields studying the mind . Dredging up Freudian psychoanalysis and mixing it with some new brand of woo is a common form of this. Pseudoscientific ideas about the physiology and function of neurons manifest in non-materialist neuroscience and quantum consciousness , which mixes quantum woo with brain woo. Brainwave woo and “brain exercise” products like Brain Gym arise from misconceptions surrounding the biology of the brain. Personality woo like the enneagram and distortions of hemispheric dominance have always been popular. Phrenology is often synonymous with brain and personality woo.

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