Should scientific truth be held in higher esteem than other truths? Why or why not?Should scientific truth be held in higher esteem than other truths? Why or why not?

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lentzk's profile pic

Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I disagree with the notion that scientific truth should be valued above all other truths.  While I certainly have no problem with science, many scientific "truths" from the Middle Ages are no longer valid.  To me, a truth, is an unwavering absolute; and even though much science can be "proven", it is often later proved wrong.

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

It depends on what the truths are needed for.  If you are doing an experiment or building an invention, you need science.  If you are having a personal crisis, you might need a more spiritual truth.  Just because some truths are more relative than others does not mean they are better.  Value is relative.

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Great question. 

In my opinion scientific truth is just as changeable and human as all other modes of study, investigation, conversation and study and so should not be held in higher regard than other modes of truth. 

There is room for disagreement on some of the premises pointed to in the above posts, both practical and philosophical disagreement. It is not strictly true that science is any more "provable" than other disiplines. The chemistry example from the fourth post is a good example of provable science, but there are examples of unproven and disproven science we can point to.  String theory is fundamentally unprovable, yet it is considered science. Cosmology that imagined the earth as the center of the universe was a scientific truth that was overturned, just like the science that suggested that coffee was bad for the human body. 

The fact is, science does proceed from a set of assumptions and presumptions which are subject to the same kind human folly as all other types of study. As stated in post #2, science is not as objective as it claims to be. 

To refer again to the fourth post, we see a good example of history as a study that offers challenges to precision and the determination of "truth", yet there are plenty of other examples in the realm of the study of history that are provable and true. Archeology has made numerous discoveries related to ancient civilization and to ancient life which are definitively and categorically true. 

Like science, history has its claims to truth and has its limits. 

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Scientific truth should be taken more seriously and held in higher esteem.  It, unlike other kinds of "truth" is provable.  To the extent that scientific truth is provable and falsifiable, it should be held in higher esteem.  We can prove what happens when two chemicals react with one another.  We cannot prove that economic and political chaos caused Germans to accept and follow Hitler.  Therefore, we should hold scientific knowledge (of the sort that is definitively provable) in higher esteem.

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The key point here is that science does not necessarily presuppose immutable truths. Science and other disciplines subject ideas to scrutiny rather than proceeding from the idea that something is true. Science by its very definition questions its own conclusions, which separates it from other worldviews. It is a process, rather than a means to an end, that once reached, is  established. The fact that theories change all the time hardly makes science less objective, in fact, it speaks to the effectiveness of the scientific method. Complete objectivity is impossible for humans to attain, which is why we need to think methodically, which is where science comes in.

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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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This is a great question. I am sure that there will be differences of opinion. Let me make three points. 

First, as it stands, scientific knowledge is held in high esteem in our society. Most people take scientific knowledge seriously. Therefore, I do not think that it needs to be elevated anymore. In fact, I think there is reason to question science at times. 

Second, if you look at the history of science and there are many more people know studying this topic, you will realize that science is not as objective as it claims to be. For instance, theories change all the time. This suggests that things were not objective or "true" to begin with. Theories are not facts. Thomas Kuhn wrote an excellent book on this topic: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

Third, there are other types of discourse out there and I think we should emphasize those as well. For example, we can gain truth through history, theology, sociology, and many other areas. In light of this, I believe that science should not be held in greater esteem than it is now. 

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