Communicating the scientific method

Aug 5, 2020
Social sciences insoc

We have ample evidence of the scientific method consistently outperforming every other method to solve real-world problems. A wealth of books have been written on the topic, detailing how the population mindset evolves with respect to a new technology. Every single technology which we see as the norm today, went through a phase of vehement pessimism. In retrospect, the technology in question was obviously better than anything else and should have been a no-brainer to get incorporated into daily lives.

Why is it then, that people still keep a closed mind? Why is it that despite strong evidence, new ideas face insurmountable barriers?

In a sense, I've already answered my question by using the phrase in retrospect. One could argue, it all only seems obvious in retrospect. Perhaps in some corner of the scientific discourse today, a nascent idea is struggling because of strong opinions held by people who can effect the strongest change. Worse yet, an idea might have already reached positive consensus among the scientists, but never be broadly adopted. The most prominent example is the impending impact of climate change which still fails to capture a common man's imagination, perhaps because of more immediate concerns compounded with false narratives.

I conjecture that the onus lies with the act of communicating science. Proselytization is tricky business. It is even trickier when a faith's core tenet relies on questioning everything. A typical religion is touted to be set in stone despite numerous instances of evolving beliefs. It is easier to get comfort knowing that everything has a reason. The scientific method however, advocates us to keep an open mind - we cannot reason everything, and perhaps, not everything has a reason.

© 2021 Sanyam Kapoor