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January 31, 2012

On the Impportance of Theories and Differences of Opinion

Theories are essential to the scientific investigation of unknowns because they provide tentative narratives which then act as vehicles for the examination of relationships between new observations and information that's been accepted with considerable certainty. Thus areas requiring clarification are readily identified and questions still requiring answers are exposed in ways that facilitate the design of needed experiments.

In other words, quests for new information are not foreclosed as they are by Dogma, the very antithesis of any scientific approach to knowledge. Dogma assumes that a particular world view is absolutely correct and that any questioning of it may require punishment. Not very long ago, those even suspected of questioning dogmatic religious beliefs were systematically prosecuted by their governments. The ultimate expression of that belief, practiced on a mass scale as recently as the last century, was the mass murder of people whose “race” was considered a presumption of guilt.

To return to the subject of theories, one of the best examples of their utility may be Charles Darwin, who as a young naturalist on a long voyage noted some interesting facts about local birds and their apparent adaptation to the different habitats extant on islands in the same archipelago. His hypothesis was subsequently refined into the theory of Evolution following publication of the book that introduced it to a mass audience.

Although both Darwin and his theory have had an enormous impact on Science (the theory anticipated the discovery of DNA and its role in biological reproduction) many still denounce both him and his theory; apparently because they have threatened the grip of both organized religion and other dogmatic beliefs on human thought.

Of great interest to me is that some recent Google searches related to Darwin have turned up evidence that both he and FitzRoy, the captain who was essential to the voyage that made him famous, suffered from symptoms modern Americans have been relieving with in illegal cannabis, the use of which is opposed by a militantly dogmatic policy.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at January 31, 2012 07:23 PM