Saying #1080

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Science — Confused Confucius answers his own question #16

It is easy for a saying to masquerade as a question. Answers are much harder to extract from the ether… but it must be done.

Question #16 How can science have all the answers?

Nothing in the hours of broom work has opened any portals to this one — #16 How can science have all the answers?

The diligent setting and testing of hypotheses, ideally with experiments fully randomised and controlled, is what generates our knowledge. This is the scientific method and it generates most of what we know, the knowns. We then wield these knowns along with our problem solving and entrepreneurial skills and in a blink there is a plasma television. It is amazing.

There are many things that knowing provides that have made life so much easier — a petrol blower instead of a broom springs to mind — and the future knowns will solve any number of challenges.

But there remain many known unknowns, things that we know are there but cannot predict. What will happen to 7 billion souls in need of sustenance when 40% of the arable soil that grows food for them is degraded? That kind of unknown.

And there is a so much we just don’t know, the Rumsfeldesque unknown unknowns. And yes, some of this we will never discover because the scientific method is not enough. There are things that even Mr Spock could not logic into existence.

So amazing as it is, science will not provide all the answers, not even for the technocrats. There are just too many unexplainable quirks, chances and randoms to contend with.

And then with the broom in hand, worn smoother than seems possible, the wood speaks. It says that no matter how much determinism leaks from the human psyche the universe will always know that there is more.

Take that all you science nerds.