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tbarryfigu's picture

Who Owns Science?

Though I have been sick lately and missed Thursday's class, it was interesting to read up on the discussions held by Professor Grobstein's group, which I will join on Tuesday.

It is my opinion that living in a Capitalist society has perpetuated the idea that certain professionals "own" their field...mainly, scientists "own" science because, well, that's just what they're good at. This belief, held by a majority of the educated population (though they may not necessarily know it, or phrase it as such) has allowed scientists to speak to their audience (educators, the scientific community, ect.) in much the same way as a priest preaching Christianity. If you know your science, you own that science, because, let's face it, after a certain point, you realize you know more than someone else and that knowledge is "yours" to exploit.

In quite the same manner, one realizes that they don't know as much about a topic as another and, as a result, find themself looking to that person with the upmost of trust (in a strictly "you REALLY know what's going on" kind of way). There are two reasons for this. The first is that they don't obtain the knowledge necessary to contradict them. The second requires a visual: A scientist has spent years absorbing "facts" and is constantly moving up the knowledge ladder. If a scientist standing on the 10th rung of this ladder offers someone standing on the floor a bit of information, they benefit that person as they offer them the means to work their way up the ladder. The person on the floor does not want to believe they are filling their head with less-wrong information, and so they justify the absorbtion of new knowledge by calling it fact.

As Americans, we have instilled in us a desire to define what is right (+) and what is wrong (-). There is hardly a middle ground (+/-) and if there is, the defenders of right and wrong feel the need to rip it apart. The middle ground is always a "slight variation" of their claim, and never a claim in itself. Until we live in a society where it is truly OK to be wrong (let's get rid of the grade system?), it will be difficult for people to accept that the search for knowledge is more important than the validity of each "fact."

-Tamarinda Figueroa   

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