October 11, 2012

Gould, On the topic of Science (also from the Introduction of The Mismeasure of Man):

 

‘Science, since people must do it, is a socially embedded activity. It progress by hunch, vision, and intuition. Much of its change through time does not record a closer approach to absolute truth, but the alteration of cultural contexts that influence it so strongly. Facts are not pure and unsullied bits of information; culture also influences what we see and how we see it. Theories, moreover, are not inexorable inductions from facts. The most creative theories are often imaginative visions imposed upon facts; the source of imagination is also strongly cultural (54).’

 

‘Science cannot escape its curious dialectic. Embedded in surrounding culture, it can, nonetheless, be a powerful agent for questioning and even overturning the assumptions that nurture it (55).’

 

‘But science’s potential as an instrument for identifying the cultural constraints upon it cannot be fully realized until scientists give up the twin myths of objectivity and inexorable march toward truth. One must, indeed, locate the beam in one’s own eye before interpreting correctly the pervasive motes in everybody else’s. The beams can then become facilitators, rather than impediments.’

 

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