Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Science... What?

Many who do not have PhD in neuroscience think that it is 'science'. But how scientific is neuroscience? Isn't its namesake, neuroscience, obvious that it is 'science'?

Here's what Matthew Lieberman (PhD), Director of the University of California Los Angeles, Social Cognitive Neuroscience laboratory, has to say:
I am a neuroscientist and so 99% of the time I behave like a materialist, acknowledging that the mind is real but fully dependent on the brain. But we don’t actually know this. We really don’t. We assume our sense of will is a causal result of the neurochemical processes in our brain, but this is a leap of faith. (Emphasis added) 
If a science subject such as neuroscience builds on faith, then what's stopping us from calling religion as science?

Besides, subjects such as psychology is still being debated whether is it science:
Psychology isn't science. [...] Because psychology often does not meet the five basic requirements for a field to be considered scientifically rigorous: clearly defined terminology, quantifiability, highly controlled experimental conditions, reproducibility and, finally, predictability and testability.
My friend who has a PhD in pedagogy called psychology "shamanism dressed up in a lab-coat."

If something is considered as science only if it meets these five criteria, then is macro-evolution theory 'science' since it definitely cannot be reproduced nor tested?

Besides, do you know that the world's most prestigious award for scientific achievement, the Nobel prize, actually considers economy as 'science'? The official name for the award in the field of economy is 'Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel'.

And universities around the world teach a subject called 'Political Science'. Politics is science?

So, either we don't actually know what 'science' is, or it is whatever anyone says it is, or not everything with 'science' in its name is in fact science. 

In any case, it is just be a label, which is thought to be prestigious and trustworthy in the present society. Hence marketers and advertisers like to tell us that their products are scientifically tested, proven, etc. 'Science' has become a magic word that commands people's trust.

2 comments:

reasonable said...

"...the five basic requirements for a field to be considered scientifically rigorous: clearly defined terminology, quantifiability, highly controlled experimental conditions, reproducibility and, finally, predictability and testability."

I suggest among the five mentioned, only testability is a essential criteria to see if something is science. So Paleontology, Cosmology, and History are also science even if we cannot reproduce experiments for many things within their fields. Hence the resurrection of Jesus studied historically falls within the realm of science.

a_seed said...

Psychology is a pretty broad field. At least a part of it studies human behaviors under certain envioronment, which is highly reproducible, and you take statistics of it.