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Archive for February 19th, 2010

Cargo Cult Science, A Lesson From Richard Feynman For Scientists of Today to Learn

Posted by pwl on February 19, 2010

CARGO CULT SCIENCE by Richard Feynman
Adapted from the Caltech commencement address given in 1974.

During the Middle Ages there were all kinds of crazy ideas, such as that a piece of rhinoceros horn would increase potency. Then a method was discovered for separating the ideas–which was to try one to see if it worked, and if it didn’t work, to eliminate it. This method became organized, of course, into science. And it developed very well, so that we are now in the scientific age. It is such a scientific age, in fact that we have difficulty in understanding how witch doctors could ever have existed, when nothing that they proposed ever really worked–or very little of it did.

But even today I meet lots of people who sooner or later get me into a conversation about UFOS, or astrology, or some form of mysticism, expanded consciousness, new types of awareness, ESP, and so forth. And I’ve concluded that it’s not a scientific world.

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Posted in Awesome, Debunking Bad Environmentalism, Ethics in Science, Exercise for the Reader (that's you), Get some perspective people, Good science attitude, Hard Science, Hard Science Required, Philosophy, Rational Thinking, Reality Based Environmentalism, Richard Feynman, Science Education, Science over Propaganada | 17 Comments »

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