Double Helixes and Double Crosses (was: Favorite NON-fiction)

Sat Feb 1 10:44:40 PST 2003

On Tue, Jan 28, 2003 at 11:33:03AM -0500, Claire Rojstaczer wrote:

> classes, you can get a major in any of the sciences, natural or social, and
> never have to take a history class about your field.  It's simply not seen
> as essential to understanding -- because science is supposedly the Truth,
> and not at all influenced by people or society.

I don't think that's entirely wrong.  Science isn't The Truth, that's the
whole point of falsification and progress, but it's not art, either.  Art
>from 500 years ago is still good art, and if you want to appreciate the art in
a museum you need to know more than just modern art.  Phlogiston and bodily
humours are not good science, and while knowing about the mistakes of the past
makes for a more well-rounded and possibly humble scientist, they're not
actually necessary for knowing physics or biology.

There is some path independence to science.  What gets discovered when, what
hypotheses are formed, who gets listened to, this depends on people and
society.  What actually passes experimental tests doesn't.  You don't need to
know anything about Newton or Einstein to understand gravity; someone could
give you the equations and concepts and supporting data and you'd learn just
as well.

-xx- Damien X-)