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Sep 21, 2019
2 Min read time
Are scientists more virtuous than the rest of us? Can religion and science be happily reconciled?
Allured by the promise of Big Data, science has shortchanged causal explanation in favor of data-driven prediction. But ultimately we must ask why.
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Many take the separation between science and politics for granted, but this view of science has its own political history: it was developed, in part, as an anti-communist tool of the Cold War.
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Is there something about what scientists know that makes them better people? Are scientists recruited from a section of humankind that is already better than the norm? And is there something scientists know that, were it widely shared with non-scientists, would make the rest of us better?
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“In a democracy the public has the right to question how the government allocates spending. But scientific research is often arcane and seemingly far-removed from the urgent need to promote public health and welfare.”
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The Internet may well have its downsides, but it also has the potential to make us collectively smarter. Networked digital tools such as discussion boards and online marketplaces are making it easier for scientists to pool their data, share methodologies, and find far-flung collaborators.
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Two recent books—one on quantum physics, one on Thomas Kuhn—seek to reestablish the authority of reason and evidence, each in its own way. But it is the most difficult of all tasks. How do you convince a whole culture that it is deluded?
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Ever since Keynes revealed that Newton was a mystic, it’s been appreciated that the history of science and religion is a good deal richer than the cardboard one favored by many scientists
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Especially in the United States, the political debate about global climate change became polarized along the conservative–liberal axis some decades ago. Although we take this for granted now, it is not entirely obvious why the chips fell the way they did.
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