Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Science is an Art

I'm an engineer by profession. And engineering relies heavily on science. In fact, one definition of engineering is the application of science.

I'm also a scientist by personality, at least according to the personality book, Please Understand Me, which labels any INTJ a scientist.

Yet, I have a lot of issues with science. And what it comes down to is this: science is an art. At least, that's what it seems. Because for all the scientific discoveries made in the past few centuries, it is amazing to me just how wrong they often turn out being.

Look at the news almost everyday, and you'll begin to see what I mean. It amazes me how a new study comes out that essentially disproves what was thought of as truth in the scientific community. And this isn't isolated to just one area of science, such as medicine, but the whole gamut. It has gotten to the point where you simply can't trust science anymore.

When I was a kid, I would visit my endocronologist at the University of Michigan Hospital. They had one of the best programs for juvenile diabetes around. During the exam, they would make you hold up your hands together, and they would look at the curvature of your pinkies. This supposedly told them something about my self care or something, though I don't know what.

Years later, they stopped doing this test because, as it turns out, it told them absolutely nothing. Yet, at some point, someone decided it did mean something, and they probably even had some scientific evidence to base this on. But they were wrong. (The downside of this is that I've been self-conscious of the curvature of my pinkies ever since.)

Or take something more geological, like the Grand Canyon. Thousands, millions of years to form, right? At least that's what we were told. The Colorado slowing carving it away. But, guess what? They were wrong. Turns out it happened very quickly in some massive, cataclysmic event. I watched some program on The Learning Channel about another similar area of the United States. (Sorry, I'm suddenly blanking on the name.) After years and years and years of scientists balking at the idea that it was formed in a rapid event, they finally discovered...can you guess?...that it formed in about the span of 1 or 2 days after a massive ice dam broke, flooding hundreds of square miles very suddenly.

And now, we have the problem with vitamins. Namely, that they really don't do people a whole lot of good. Yep, sorry to break it to you, but taking vitamins is no substitute for healthy eating.

I'm barely scratching the surface here. The point is, I fear there is a over-dependence on science. We seem to see it as the answer to everything. Sure, plenty is done to advance science. I work in an industry that depends upon it. But there is no getting around the fact that science is an art. Which kind of makes me an artist, I suppose.

I think I'm going to head off now and clone myself, because, as we all know, some scientist in Korea managed to do it. Didn't he???

1 comment:

Kassie said...

The pinkie thing! I was trying to recall what that meant the other day. Guess it's a moot point now!