domenica 27 agosto 2017

La scienza è democratica

Girando ho trovato un bel libro di Richard Feynmann che a pagina 186 dice delle cose che condivido pur non avendole mai pensate.

Another of the qualities of science is that it teaches the value of rational thought, as well as the importance of  freedom of thought; the positive results that come from doubting that the lessons are all true. You must here distinguish - especially in teaching—the science from the forms or procedures that are sometimes used in developing science. It is easy to say, "We write, experiment, and observe, and do this or that." You can copy that form exactly. But great religions are dissipated by following form without remembering the direct content of the teaching of the great leaders. In the same way it is possible to follow form and call it science but it is pseudoscience. In this way we all suffer from the kind of tyranny we have today in the many institutions that have come under the influence of pseudoscientific advisers.

We have many studies in teaching, for example, in which people make observations and they make lists and they do statistics, but they do not thereby become established science, established knowledge. They are merely an imitative form of science—like the South Sea Islanders making airfields, radio towers, out of wood, expecting a great airplane to arrive. They even build wooden airplanes of the same shape as they see in the foreigners' airfields around them, but strangely, they don't fly. The result of this pseudoscientific imitation is to produce experts, which many of you are-experts. You teachers who are really teaching children at the bottom of the heap, maybe you can doubt the experts once in a while. Learn from science that you must doubt the experts. As a matter of fact, I can also define science another way: Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.

When someone says science teaches such and such, he is using the word incorrectly. Science doesn't teach it;  experience teaches it. If they say to you science has shown such and such, you might ask, "How does science show it—how did the scientists find out-how, what, where?" Not science has shown, but this experiment, this effect, has shown. And you have as much right as anyone else, upon hearing about the experiments (but we must listen to all the evidence), to judge whether a reusable conclusion has been arrived at.

In a field which is so complicated that true science is not yet able to get anywhere, we have to rely on a kind of old-fashioned wisdom, a king of definite straightforwardness. I am trying to inspire the teacher at the bottom to have some hope, and some self-confidence in common sense, and natural intelligence. The experts who are leading you may be wrong.

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