Getting uncomfortable

In March 2014 on March 25, 2014 at 10:35 am


Sarah: Science has a reputation to uphold. Rules. Predictability. Closed systems. Controls. Repeats. No frills. No embellishment. No subjectivity.

Consistent with these descriptors, I like order and I like systematics (like the bloke who guest-posted yesterday), and I am a scientist. As a young uni student seeking my professional calling, I like to think I slotted in to the science world pretty easily – a perfect match!

But did science choose me, or did I choose science? A twitter conversation inspired by the recent Adelaide ScienceOnline Watch Party prompted Kristin Alford to comment that the apparently distinct disciplines of science and philosophy have,

“a different way of making meaning,”

and working across both disciplines requires,

“holding multiple truths and systems, [and] can be tricky.”

Each discipline – whether it be science, philosophy, psychology or history, to name just a few – has its own system of truths. It suddenly struck me that the reason I had switched my university studies to science was because I was comfortable with its system of truths. I could rule out many of the variations and difficulties of human behaviour, I could largely restrict the role of emotion in daily processes, I could knuckle down and focus on results and numbers and graphs. I chose this way of thinking, and gladly adhered to the rules.

But science does not have all the answers to the problems that confront us. The existence of facts does not translate into human action. We need more than science. Yes, holding multiple truths and systems is tricky. But accepting that other disciplines have value does not demand a rejection of science. It’s OK to be uncomfortable.

[photo ‘this is not my living room’ thanks to Kristin Schmidt on flickr]


  1. […] I typically use evidence conveyed to me via my senses: sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. Like Sarah, I enjoy a bit of repeatability (yes, this is a word, and it’s different from […]

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