We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I disagree somewhat with the article. Science can illuminate the questions, but not the solutions. Assume that science says there's a 30% lower chance of contracting Covid if you wear a mask (arguendo). The question of whether this means that the government should mandate mask wearing is inherently political: does this risk to the individual outweigh the dangers inherent in granting the government more power?
The fact that a scientist has publicly embraced a political position which embraces near complete control of the individual by the government is perfectly valid to consider when evaluating her opinion that mask wearing and social distance can never be ended. It's not the scientific risk determination that is being questioned, but the political action to be taken as a result. Similarly, an opinion from a radical Green that no action should be taken in order to reduce the world's population should also be judged on the politics of the person espousing it, even if it results in a diametrically opposed opinion.
another guy named Dan
Douglas Adams: The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.
This is one of the reasons why repeatability is such an important factor in testing theories and conclusions. Individual biases can be flattened out by repeatability by other, independent researchers, especially those from other countries, and to an extent, cultures.
This is also why "social sciences" are not really science, but more of a philosophy in the older sense of the word.
Science isn't perfect, and therefore can never be perfectly objective. Since its subject is mostly the real world, there is an interface that will always require that the study must be in some way compromised, in order to progress. It is understanding what that compromise is, and its impact on the overall result, that must be characterized as accurately as possible.
This is really the primary reason that one must keep in mind that the 'Science is never settled". There is always another chapter to the debate when new data or new hypotheses are taken into consideration.
Aggie: This is really the primary reason that one must keep in mind that the 'Science is never settled".
Stephen Jay Gould: In science, 'fact' can only mean 'confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.' I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.
I have two problems with that Gould quote. Sure, apples will continue to fall down, especially since we define "down" to mean the direction a free body will accelerate in a gravitational field, and it's more correct to state that the apple and the Earth attract each other, but due to their difference in mass the effect on the Earth is imperceptible.
Secondly, no physicist truly thinks that we have figured out gravity. Newton came up with a good description for fairly large objects in fairly low-energy situations. Then Einstein came up with a more general description involving curved and warped spacetime. Now there's a minority of non-crackpot scientists who think that what most model as "dark energy" is actually an artifact of Einstein's equations not holding exactly true at the scale of the entire universe.
For science to progress, there needs to be room for the iconoclast to say "That's not quite right", and that is simply not being allowed in many fields.
Another Guy named Dan
Another Guy named Dan: Sure, apples will continue to fall down