Science is Boring.
ow dare I say such a thing...I know, it’s insidious, but I cannot deny it any longer.
All the time, “Science tells us this” and “Science tells us that”—we hear this often enough. It needs to be said. This “science” you
always speak of, this strange phenomenon now on the lips of everyone these days, is entirely tedious. Even the way they use the word “science”,
almost like it was some divine wind of knowledge destined to sprinkle about truth, is difficult to swallow. No, Science isn’t such magical forces.
The only properties of Science with a capital S is scientists and a pile of literature on certain subjects. This supposed objective force consists of
human beings of a particularly subjective sort appointing themselves as recorders of facts from which to compile a model of everything, which is an
interesting proposition, but an entirely uninteresting task. The objective reality of science, according to the piles and piles of statistics,
observations and math, has a degree of useful application, and in turn deserves that respect; but because it is
piles and piles of statistics,
observations and math, it is extremely boring, and even moreso when it is presented as a world-view.
Physics sits atop a pyramid representing the apex above the the rest of the natural, social, and applied sciences. In a twist of irony, and despite
the repellent that is mathematics and statistics, physics has become a sort of metaphysics for so many religious types. Even behind a veil of
irreligion, Scientific Certainty has become the dogma of those who do not wish to take a look for themselves. Ask one of these good people for their
own ideas on something, they will throw a physics paper in front of your eyes, or will go mountaineering through mountains and valleys of statistics,
analytics and numbers in search of their truths, like one might search for parables among dusty old books. As long as it has some mystical Scientific
approval, or is presented as Science, it goes completely unquestioned. And what comes out their mouths when they finally speak their truths are
numbers and equations. “This is truth” they will tell you. “This is law”. Their truths are true as long as someone with a PhD behind their
name says so—scientists no longer scientists, but priests if I’m not being to blasphemous here. It goes without saying then that people who hold
Science as a world-view are on the slightly boring side.
How is it boring?
Those great models of the solar system that used to be in the classrooms and astronomy exhibits were always fun to look at. They presented an
interesting view of the solar system—seeing the tiny third rock among the other planets makes one feel quite small and insignificant. But,
philosophically, it is an interesting view of the solar system because it is captured from no particular viewpoint in the universe, and from no
particular pair of eyes. It is interesting because it presents a point of view as seen from no point of view, or if I may use the term in this
instance, seeing it objectively
, without a human eye around for lightyears to see it. It isn’t even a memory or a dream that someone once
had. How is a worldview as seen by no one in the least bit interesting?
Science cannot be a world-view because there is no world view; it is sightless, “nothing to see here”, and there is no way to present it as such.
What occurs is human beings diligently breaking things, eviscerating things, and exploding things to see what of the pieces we can use. It’s about
mapping things, calculating things and gathering it all of it into a body of scientific facts, from which we can apply towards our base needs and
comforts. Using an instrumentalist’s outlook, science is a tool, capable of being used for household and day-to-day uses, or for building
monstrosities of technology, finding other ways to escape our own nature; but as can be seen, it is entirely incapable of defining the one who wields
"But progress!" they tell me. "Science is progress! Look at all the great toys we have!" It is quite clear that Protagoras was right: Man is the
measure of all things. Consequently, progress is man’s progress. Objective data leads to subjective fruits. But since we’re taking the viewpoints
of no one in particular, let’s imagine what progress means to a dolphin in a Sea-world, or a tree beside an eight-lane freeway, or a cow in a
slaughterhouse. What does science tell us about them—and I'm not interested in their composition and biology, which implies I have to first kill
them in order to know them. What does scientific data say about their lives as we probe them and use them as we see fit? I wonder how they view
science and technology. It remains to be seen if man’s progress is beneficial to anything else in the universe, but at least when the end comes we
can enjoy the fruits of our scientific labour, and perhaps find an air-conditioned room with a decent view. Or maybe though less likely, perhaps those
who promote Science can at least be a little more humble about it.
Science is boring and perhaps paradoxical because it attempts to present an objective view of the universe as seen by no one, and by its nature,
presents itself not as answers to questions, but as numbers and equations and data, and refuses any one interpretation over the other. No one who
takes a Science world-view ever seems to read the data themselves. Scientific papers are really boring. What the plebeians usually find exciting about
science is the religious enthusiasm involve in hearing different interpretations of the data, and the scientist always thinks she has reached some
great answer, which she no doubt subjectively supplies. Or for once, go look at the actual data yourself, and witness the true science at work, the
useful science—predictable, homogenous, and mediocre—numbers, facts, pie charts and so-on, destined to technological advances, and ultimately, new
The Poet vs. The Mathematician
Perhaps I am jaded. I had the pleasure of reading Goethe’s Theory of Colors
and Newton’s Opticks
back to back. I would witness the
poet’s version of light and color a thousand times more before I ever decided to read the mathematician’s again. I prefer the light and color as
seen by the poet’s eye rather than expressed by math. I prefer the color of one who has witnessed color everywhere, rather than while confined in a
dark room, through which to let through only pinholes of light. On top of that, it was written delightfully and was not only a pleasure to pour
through the observations but to imagine them at the same time, whereas I fell asleep during the Opticks and remember very little. Perhaps I too fell
victim to Goethe’s enthusiasm and interpretation of his experiments, but only because it painted a more beautiful picture of what he was
Darkness is the absence of light, physics tells me. Such an insipid view of something that we remain within for most of our lives. It is just as
likely that light is the absence of darkness. An objective view can be quite meaningless to someone in a dark place. But when the lights go out
we’ll finally know the truth: only for a moment is there light, the absence of darkness, and we are only lucky that for a short time we have
eyes—human eyes—to see the light with.
Thank you for reading,