real scientists

Cathy Quinones quinones at orchid.UCSC.EDU
Sun Aug 28 15:13:22 EST 1994


In article <33qmmb$mhk at news.ycc.yale.edu> ALMASY at biomed.med.yale.edu (Laura Almasy) writes:
>Great new thread!  It's lured me out of my usual lurking mode.
>
>
>In <199408281320.GAA19625 at net.bio.net> ADREGER at UCS.INDIANA.EDU asks:
>
>> is a scientist who has become a nothing-but administrator no longer a 
>> scientist?
>
>I like this formulation of the question.  It brings up the issue of whether
>being a scientist has to do with the activities you're engaging in or with your
>approach to knowledge.  If you don't conduct any experiments, but you do form
>hypotheses and draw conclusions based on your observations, are you a scientist
>or a philosopher?
>
>Does it matter whether the hypotheses are testable?
>
>	--Laura


I think a key element is having a "scientific mentality".  Without
lifting a finger the right person can read a protocol/proposed experiment and
critique it in ways that can vastly improve the proposed work, or look at
a set of data and offer an alternative explanation, and this person
may be drawing on personal experience or simply on accumulated information...
so I would hesitate to eliminate someone who has turned into an administrator
(or who isn't presently active in research) from the "real scientist" list.

I'd say that whenever you form a hypothesis the next step is to propose ways
to test it.  Of course, there may be limits to what tests you can propose but
that doesn't mean you can't make specific, testable predictions that may be
expanded upon in future generations (or whenever technology catches up with
your imagination!).  I always feel a lot of excitement when I read
not-so-recent theoretical papers that are full of speculations and
predictions that time (and researchers!) have tested and found to be true,
it seems to me the philosopher/visionary is just as amazing as the
researcher that figures out the nitty-gritty of testing the hypothesis
(and when you combine both in one body, heck, that's what I call a god or
goddess).  If you can't make specific predictions or propose testable
hypotheses, then nothing is being done except rehash already existing info,
which doesn't much advance the field by offering new
approaches/questions/interpretations (i.e., contributes nothing new).
(Note: this is not to say that a literature review/symmary is worthless, or
that re-phrasing existing knowledge to target a different audience is a waste
of time... they may in fact indirectly lead to progress by making info
more available).

One of the main criticisms about "scientific creationism" is that there's
little scientifically valid data supporting, say, the creation of the
universe in 7 days.  The ideas are stated as facts, there is no proof
events happened as depicted in, say, the bible.  Testable hypotheses
are rare... it very much clashes with the scientific method as understood
by students of other scientific fields.
[ :)  I just remembered a comment made by a professor regarding the
christian god's career so far: 1 experiment -creation-, no replicates
-no other planets known to support life-, and a lousy, one-publication
record -the bible-... although this one pub does get quoted a whole lot,
though!]
-- 
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