Maybe 'Science' Isn't the Only Way to Know!

It seems not many people understand how they gain knowledge, or perhaps they are just not honest with themselves. I say this in the context of people suggesting that science is the only way to gain knowledge.

It doesn't take much introspection, for example, for me to recognise that most of my 'knowledge' wasn't gained through pure science or anything approximating the scientific method (whatever that is). I also have good reason to suspect that this is the case for every other human on the planet (including Richard Dawkins).

How else does one know? you may say. How about: reading books, listening to people, by example, etc.

I had just been just reading some blog post on the interweb that mostly consisted of a quote from a Wired article - where Dawkins was responding to a question on "the limits of science".

To be honest, Dawkins response was pretty lame, suggesting that the 'limits' were just where science hadn't got to yet. Then, when he almost gets to admitting science has limits, he turns to religion bashing.

Dawkins has an agenda, so in some ways I'm not surprised at his response. I'm sure he appreciates enough of the basics of epistemology to realise how weak his response was (unless of course he really does drink his own Kool-Aid).

What surprises me however, is how so many thinking people can take this on board and think that it holds weight.

Personally, I have a lot of faith in science - but I am honest enough to admit that it is faith. Science is based on some reasonable assumptions, but not infallible assumptions. Also, science has to be kept in the context of the kind of knowledge it is trying to discover.

I found an article on the nature and philosophy of science, this quote from it illustrates my point reasonably well:

Scientists are unbiased observers who use the scientific method to conclusively confirm and conclusively falsify various theories. These experts have no preconceptions in gathering the data and logically derive theories from these objective observations. One great strength of science is that it’s self-correcting, because scientists readily abandon theories when they are shown to be irrational. Although such eminent views of science have been accepted by many people, they are almost completely untrue.

The philosophy of science is a subject that should be taught in every high school. Perhaps then we won't have a population gullible enough to digest the rhetoric of people like Dawkins.