Different kinds of truth: religion, science and fiction

Henry Gee over at the Guardian has written a very important point about the public’s perception of science:

One of the mistakes that people – and I include scientists and journalists in my definition of “people”, because, well, I’m charitable like that – is that they think science is all about discovering the “truth”. Scientist David Sloan-Wilson went so far as characterising science as a religion that had truth as its God.

But science is nothing of the kind. “Truth” is a concept that is best left to theologians and philosophers. Science, on the other hand, is better characterised not as a religion, but as a rational process, in which the goal is not the attainment of truth, but the quantification of doubt.

I see this daily on forums of various kinds where people argue about science as if were an arbiter of absolute truth, even though those people arguing about it are not, nor ever have been scientists themselves.  Some of this is arguably the fault of the press in past decades, where reporters would write about what scientists said as if they had discovered something irrefutable and neglected to include the limitations of the results of any research. Additionally, some of the blame goes towards school education that doesn’t emphasise the limits of human understanding of many things taught.

The full article can be found here:

Different kinds of truth: religion, science and fiction.