The goal of scientists is to retrieve data and emit hypotheses on a question they ask themselves. They seek the truth about something using logics to guide them through their work. Taking into consideration the facts, the data, they try to treat it correctly, in an objective manner, and have results that reflect the real phenomenon. But how well does this work? There are some examples that reflect this idea, I’m going to talk about the one that I know best, having encountered it during my studies.
There is this known controversy of mathematicians and physicists against evolutionary biologists and palaeontologists: the first two fail to understand how it is possible for organisms with survival rates close to zero to actually survive. Following the laws of probabilities it is indeed impossible for living beings (such as the horse or even humans to take as some popular examples) to survive in the struggle for life. Yet they still exist and others, with better mathematical survival-probabilities, disappear very rapidly. Should these scientists think a bit outside the box, would they understand how evolution works; it is not about what we should find, nature -and life- does not always work that way.
But this is only an example of how scientific logic works. How can we be sure that we are open-minded or that we even can be right in the treatment of data?
In the book of Stephen Jay Gould “Time’s arrow, time’s cycle”, the author refers to F. Engels saying how it is impossible to think out of the trends and the ideas of our times. This is just another point to the fact that scientists do not know everything, as much as they’d like to think they do (I admit that I should include myself in this category…).
So can scientists be certain to explore a problem from every possible aspect?