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Wed Jan 29 05:47:52 PST 2003

>I'm curious what your science background is since you are so well-informed 
>about Rosalind Franklin, among other topics?

I suppose that I should clarify that, lest I make any misrepresentations, 
overt or implied.  A large portion of my coursework was in philosophy 
(although my major was in English... proving that I had no sense of economic 
realities), with the focus being on the philosophy and history of science. 

I am *not* a scientist, but I like to be as literate of the sciences as is 
humanly possible for a layman to be.  As such, one day I'll be reading 
biology articles in Nature and the next I'll be struggling through articles 
on Quantum Cosmology on the arXive server.  I make absolutely no pretense of 
being the equal of any scientist, within their field, but I do like to 
believe that I have a good overall understanding of a broad range of fields.

In particular, I am very interested in the dynamics of science, which is how 
I came upon the Franklin controversy.  I absolutely *hate* the common view 
of science as some sort of elite and pristine endeavor practiced in ivory 
towers by emotionless intellects.  I think that a lot of the impression that 
science is dehumanizing stems directly from this stereotype.

I think that science *is* special.  I know of no other epistemological 
system that has such a brilliant record of demonstrable success, but I think 
that it's important to understand that a large part of that success is based 
upon philosophical underpinnings which assume that scientists are human, and 
thus fallible (hence the importance of falsifiability [2] in the sciences, 
the critical role of peer review, and the reward system that is in place to 
laude those who *overturn* established theory).

I very much want the general public to understand *why* science works.  I 
feel that most people don't, which is why I think that it is all too easy 
for people to dismiss scientific opinions that clash with their own 

-- Andrew Lias

[1] One reason that I eventually abandoned philosophy was because a lot of 
current philosophers have an active hostility towards the sciences.  For 
ever Dennett there are a dozen postmodernist purveyors of word salad.  Never 
the less, philosophy and science ought to be natural companions and that 
philosophy, as a discipline, approaches its best when it considers the 
implications of scientific discoveries.

[2] As an aside, I remember a very frustrating debate why my opponent, no 
matter how many times it would be explained to him, thought that if 
something was falsifiable then it must, therefore, be false.

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