Page 130 - MODES of EXPLANATION

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curve” or a “Gaussian distribution” in decision-making is synecdoche; so too is labeling of
politicians by a singular position they hold; so too was the simplistic belief prior to the
housing crisis in always-rising housing prices. To be enthralled or appalled by what is taught
in the name of “science” is also synecdoche. Synecdoche is the hammer to the
communicator’s love of nails.
Consider Nagel’s (1961) view:
“Scientific thought takes its ultimate point of departure from problems suggested by
observing things and events encountered in common experience; it aims to understand
these observable things by discovering some systematic order in them; and its final
test for the laws that serve as instruments of explanation and prediction is their
concordance with such observations.”
Or Hong’s (2013): By treating a given set of scientific facts as a particular pattern,
constructing a theory is tantamount to finding a template that best fits the pattern. In
brief, humans’ creative process is far more erratic than step-by-step logical
descriptions engendered in mathematical equations or digital computer algorithm. In
computer science jargon, humans’ creative process is largely a parallel process rather
than a pure sequential process. … Natural phenomena are reality out there waiting to
be comprehended, whereas a scientific theory is humans’ mental construct that
explicitly describes the repeating pattern, which agrees with most, if not all, past
observations and which predicts closely the repetitions after the invention of the
theory or the repetitions not known at the time of its inception.
The last sentence of this statement from the Union of Concerned Scientists (2007) is highly
revelatory of the entire debate over creationism:
“We are … troubled by the misleading interpretations of scientific principles being
used to discredit and misrepresent the science of evolution. … a science classroom is
not a place where all ideas are given equal weight. Science is a process in which ideas
are ultimately accepted or discarded based on rigorous observation and testing. … If
non-scientific beliefs are accepted as science, we are concerned that the public’s
understanding of science will be further eroded, the integrity of science will be
diminished, and the potential implications for society will be profound. The ability to
distinguish between claims based on evidence and analysis of the natural world and
those based on belief may be lost, leading our future decision makers to make choices
based on unsubstantiated information.”
The stated concern is about what kind of methods future decision makers will employ; the
unstated concern is about the assumptions, fundierung, models, and affordances that will
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