Tag Archives: philosophy of science

Never trust anyone who doesn’t change their mind

One of the enormous ironies of the Covid-19 pandemic is that what should be an unquestioned triumph for science seem to have actually reduced trust in science for many. In less than a year science provided the tools to end a global pandemic, including an understanding of transmission, sophisticated models of epidemiology, and multiple safe and highly effective vaccines. You’d think that would bring folks for once and for all into the science-is-great-and-I’m-thankful camp – but no. Continue reading

Covid-19, mystery novels, and how science works

This is a guest post from Emma Despland.  Her first pandemic-themed guest post is here; this week, she asks what the pandemic can teach the public about science, and teach us about public understanding of science.

There is considerable frustration about uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, how serious it is and what we should do.

Do we need to wear masks? What kind of mask? If you’re had Covid-19, are you immune? For how long? Do I need to disinfect my groceries? Is it safe to go jogging outside? One model  suggests that you need to be 10 m away from someone who is running to avoid getting hit by their microdroplets and possibly contaminated, whereas other experts think this long-distance transmission is unlikely.

Fictional representations of science show too many Eureka moments. Continue reading

Sharing the unwritten lore: “Being a Scientist”, by Michael Schmidt

How do people learn to be scientists?  We’re very good at teaching our students how to titrate a solution, take a derivative, label a dissected earthworm, or calculate the p-value from a one-way ANOVA.  One might get the impression that learning these skills is an important part of training to be a scientist.  Well, arguably they’re not unimportant; but they’re more skills used by scientists that they are skills that make us scientists.  In Being a Scientist: Tools for Science Students, Michael Schmidt tackles the much more interesting question of that latter set.

Being a Scientist covers the softer skills that let scientists do what they do: philosophy, creativity, reading and writing, and so on. Continue reading