I am taking a class called Theory of Knowledge and have to write an essay on "Do we have to learn to think scientifically in order to find the truth?"  I would like to have some ideas about this...

I am taking a class called Theory of Knowledge and have to write an essay on "Do we have to learn to think scientifically in order to find the truth?" 

I would like to have some ideas about this topic. I already said that as humans we already think scientifically naturally, and in other fields like the arts it is perhaps not necessary. I need to have an argument (which I kind of already have) and other views on how to answer this. Any help or thoughts appreciated.

Asked on by idrajit

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The question you were given is open to some interpretation, it seems to me, and provides several points for discussion. "Do we have to learn to think scientifically in order to find the truth?" The question rather implies two things: first, that we (humans) have to learn to think scientifically and second, the truth can only be found through scientific thinking. Neither of these premises appear to be true.

Your point that we already tend to think scientifically is a good one. Scientific thinking involves using reasoning and logic as well as applying new information to previous knowledge or experience, and it is something we do all the time. It is true that some people are naturally better at it than others, but we all do it. That is how infants learn language skills or how any of us learn to do things better today than we did yesterday. As a culture, we continue to build on today's knowledge for a better tomorrow; for example, the technology which appears on the market today is almost immediately outdated by the products which are even more advanced.

The fact that some people are born as good scientific thinkers tells us these skills do not always come just from learning, and the notable examples of that are people like Ben Franklin, Albert Einstein, and Galileo. People in certain professions (such as criminologists, medical researchers, and agricultural engineers) hone their scientific reasoning skills, but we all have them to some degree.

The idea that truth can only be found through scientific thinking is rather closed-minded. There are many kinds of truth, and not all of them require the proof of reasoning and logic. How photosynthesis works is certainly a different kind of truth than knowing that you love someone. Both are truths, but the latter requires no scientific reasoning. Things like beauty, freedom, love, peace, and art all contain elements of truth which are probably not identifiable through the scientific method. For example, America is considered to be a "free" country. That is a truth which can be quantified (we have elections, we can live where we choose, etc.) but it is also an intuitive truth, something which we just feel to be true. Spiritual truths, and even the existence of God, might also fall into this category of unquantifiable truths.

One other aspect of this truth-finding through scientific reasoning is the errors in truth which have or could happened because of it. Some mathematicians are able to use logic and reasoning to prove 2 + 2 = 5, and many so-called scientific "truths" have undergone changes through the centuries. Even global warming science "experts" disagree on what the truths mean. 

Below is an eNotes link; two ideas from the site might serve you will for this topic

  • Qualification: “qualification” here means to limit your position to specific contexts or situations, a “yes, but…” perspective. Qualifying not only can demonstrate that you understand the complexity of an issue but can show you have a unique perspective on it.
  • Concede a little, as necessary: it’s perfectly okay to admit your position is not perfect; in fact, breaking down what works and what doesn’t about your topic can enhance your analysis. Anticipating and alleviating your reader’s concerns can be incredibly persuasive.

It seems to me the short answer to the question is no, we do not need to learn to think scientifically in order to find the truth, and I think there are several ways to prove it. 

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