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How to differentiate science from pseudo science?

What is science? How does it differ from all previous systems of knowledge?

We seem to live in a up-side down world where strange things happen.

For example,

  • If you pay your home loan in a bank earlier you incur a penalty, why? The lender should have been happy to get his money back early!
  • If there is a bumper crop of tomatoes the farmers lose money. why? If you produce more, you should get more money!
  • The most advanced scientific and technological feat of launching a rocket is preceded by the project directors offering prayers in temples. Why? It is the science which make the rocket go up!
  • The person who slogs the whole year gets  lower rating than a colleague who is in good terms with the manager. Why?

We can go on and on.

We live in a world of in which for the past 400 years there is an avalanche of scientific discoveries which transformed life on earth in more ways than one. But we are also facing attempts to drag us back into the ages of ignorance. Hence it becomes imperative for us to understand what is science and how it differs from all previous systems of knowledge?

Here are some excerpts from the lecture given by Professior Richard Feynman, one of the foremost scientists of 20th century.

 

Video of the lecture

(Text of the lecture)

  • The key to modern science and the beginning of the true understanding of Nature – is the idea to look at the thing, to record the details, and to hope that in the information thus obtained might lie a clue to one or another theoretical interpretation.
  • A a theoretical interpretation is again verified by looking at things, recording the details and the understanding gets extended. When a law is right it can be used to find another one. If we have confidence in a law, then if something appears to be wrong it can suggest to us another phenomenon.
  • feynmanBut, it is a strange world we live in – that all the new advances in understanding are used to to continue the nonsense which existed for 2,000 years.
  • All the scientific laws have the following characteristics.
    they are mathematical in their expression
    they are not exact – we keep modifying them as the frontiers of human knowledge expand.
  • There is always an edge of mystery, always a place where we have some fiddling around to do yet. This may or may not be the property of Nature, but it certainly common to all the laws as we know them today.
  • But, all the physical laws turn out to be simple things, although complex in their actual actions.
  • Nature used only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the tapestry.

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