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J Shafagh's picture


I want to first apologize if these comments are from older classes/lectures/topics….I joined the class a little late and am catching up on writing post and responses…

            I am a firm believer in the belief of science as getting it less wrong, and I do believe it has strong similarity to the literary activity of failing better.  I believe that as humans with intelligent brains, which we all have, we have created the world with our own language, culture, curiosity, observations, society etc, and the only universal “truths” that are available have been created by us ourselves.  So in essence, every new concept or idea that emerges is our way of coping with the new information that was discovered in the context of our present life (as time has evolved) and is essentially getting it less wrong.  However, as life progresses, new discoveries are always being made, so we can say that there is no truth, for they are constantly being modified, as life is a progressive event and process.  Thus, this is why Mayr describes scientists as still searching for a story or explanation to the process of evolution. 

            Growing up, being influenced by my school, teachers, friends and family, I always believed that science was an absolute truth, and literature was made up and was all stories.  It is now that I’m beginning to think that everything in life is stories, explanations, different points of views to help describe things that have happened, occurred, and give meaning and explanation to life.  However, with literature, I believe that many different opinions and interpretations are acceptable, while in science, there is most often one generally held theory or belief that is taught and believed to be the “truth.”  I guess this is a societal and social impact on the two subject matter.

            I also do agree with Mayr stating that “nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution.”  In the context of evolution, we have been able to describe how life and properties of things have constantly been changing over time.  Furthermore, in response to Evan’s post, I believe that new discoveries and treatments to diseases in medicine can be considered a “truth” because it solves the problem, but that might not be the only truth or method of curing the patient, so in essence, it is still a means of getting it less wrong.  Also, if you think about vaccines for bird flu etc. (for example), new strains are constantly “evolving” from year to year, so the vaccine isn’t the truth to the problem, it is a way of getting it less wrong to prevent sickness for now, until things evolve and change and other methods are found that are more suitable or “less wrong” to fix the problem. 


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