Re: "What is Science" FAQ, draft 2

Robert J. Bradbury (
Thu, 9 Sep 1999 09:53:37 -0700 (PDT)

On Thu, 9 Sep 1999, Ken Clements wrote:

> Larry Klaes wrote:
> > Q: Is science the only epistemology necessary?
> >
> > A: No. Science tells us what we can do with the universe, it can not
> > tell us what we should do.
> >
> I do not totally agree with this part. Science tells us what the universe
> *is*, engineering predicts what we can do with it, and when we do, that is
> technology. The popular press confuses all this on a regular basis, which
> leads people to resent scientists for some undesirable use of technology.
It have not read the FAQ, but Ken's point is important. Science often gets a bad rap because people equate Science with Engineering with Technology. They do not understand that there is a *long* lag time from Science to Technology (witness fusion power). Nowhere in the popular press did I see much mention of the fact that the delay time from improving the memory of mice to improving the memory of humans would probably be at least a 10 year process.

As others have pointed out Science gets a bad rap because the delays inherent to the process are not made clear in any speculations. This distinction is an important distinction to keep people from developing the impression that Science "rarely" delivers on its promises.