Converting to the Scientific Method

I saw this cartoon on Facebook. I have never encountered anyone who tried to win people to the scientific method this way. But it does raise the question of how we should spread the good news about our ever-improving understanding of the world through the application of science. Sometimes it is something one is brought up with, sometimes it is something one comes to through reading, sometimes it is something that one is won over to by some other means. We should not pretend that being open to critical investigation and allowing evidence to shape and change our thinking are not commitments that human beings do not simoly have naturally, but they involve a commitment, a conscious choice to follow that path.

Suddenly carrying that message door to door doesn't seem so silly – except that nowadays, few readily accept anything from a door-to-door salesperson, even if it is a new cable service. So how should anyone with any sort of good news share it in a manner appropriate to our day and age?


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  • Jerry Wilson

    On Facebook and other social media! Duh!

    • Melanie Davidson

      I was about to say, tweet it! Obviously.

  • Bradley Robert Compton

    I think the new Cosmos is doing a pretty good job at spreading the ideals of science.

  • arcseconds

    It’s not something I hadn’t considered before :-)

    But ’15 minutes of your time’ plus a pamphlet (*) is even less plausible as a means of getting someone to follow ‘the scientific method’ (not that there is, you know, such a thing) than it is as a way of bringing someone to religion.

    I mean, I presume what is intended by a prolestyzing pamphlet is that you’ll read it and as a result of reading, believe what’s in it. While that’s not really all that likely, something like this does actually happen sometimes: you read something, and you believe it (of course, it’ll be from a source you trust, and it’ll be the kind of thing you’re inclined to believe or at least present the kind of evidence you’re inclined to accept, which is what pamphelteers don’t seem to realise). But what converting someone to ‘reason and empricism’ means is getting them to reconsider their entire relationship to evidence.

    And you can’t just do that in 15 minutes and a pamphlet. It takes quite a lot of training and years of practice to be any good at it.

    (*) Naturalis Philosophiæ Principia Mathematica isn’t a pamphlet, obviously. Also, it’s probably not the kind of thing you should just hand to someone and expect them to understand and for it to revolutionize their life… although maybe the same is true of the Gospel of John.

    • arcseconds

      I mean, I appreciate that actually there are many parallels here, and brining someone to religion also requires someone to reconsider how their entire life relates to other things, including perhaps evidence. But clearly many people think of religion as just believing in certain things, and it’s easier to suppose that that can be bought about by 15 minutes and a pamplet.

      While a similar mistake often gets made with science (that it’s primarily about beleiving certain things), there’s more of a realisation it’s the methodology and approach that’s really important, not the specific beliefs.

  • gospelaccordingtodoctorwho