The Ideal of the Noble Scientist

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Magical Realist, May 29, 2015.

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  1. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    There seems to me to be popular conception out there that scientists are more ethical and truthful and selfless than normal humans. That they somehow are unfettered with the very human traits of pride, egotism, fame-seeking, sloth, and greed that we mere mortals struggle with. Is there any truth in this? Are scientists heroes in the pursuit of truth? Or are they just normal human beings who are trying to make lots of money and a name for themselves just like everybody else? While you ponder that, consider this:
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  3. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    I think you are just setting up an argument so that you can easily knock it down

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    Scientists are just people working in scientific subject areas. Some are working for commercial companies, some are employed by universities, etc.

    Peer review and then later validation through replication of results is what leads to new knowledge. Sure there are pros and cons to any system (regarding the article linked to) but the current system is working more or less.

    Doctors are scientists as are engineers and then there is research. Just saying "science" is or "science" says is meaningless.
    billvon, Russ_Watters and exchemist like this.
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  5. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    The idea of the noble scientists is no more valid, than the idea of the noble Doctor, or teacher, or Judge.
    Some may seem noble, some are rotten to the core, no doubt, and some are just your average Joe Blow, that happens to have a PHd.
    Some suffer from delusions of grandeur, just as our conspiracy nutters do, and the herd of alternative hypothesis pushers, always trying to upstage the upper echelon of this profession....Others suffer from the "tall poppy"syndrome, and like the alternative nutters, will strive for all their worth to attempt to drag that same upper echelon down to their own sewer level.
    Others are truly humble human beings, totally engrosed in improving the lot for mankind and the advancement of knowledge. Einstein was one of these.

    The peer review system is not perfect, but it is the best we have got, and works pretty well in most cases despite your critical article.

    Considering you a while back started the most stupid inane thread I have ever seen on any forum, re "what has science done for humanity" with your equally as stupid inference, that it has done nothing, it will be interesting to see how you fabricate your usual nonsense to support your equally nonsensical inference again of scientists.
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  7. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Agree with other responses.

    I think it is true that science, as a discipline, can be on occasions contrasted favourably with, say, politics or business, since the nature of the enterprise of science is get at how the physical world really works, rather than making self-serving arguments about it for the sake of profits or votes. So when you have media stories involving politics and science, e.g. about climate change, or nuclear power or pollution, say, one looks to science for a dispassionate explanation of what we really think we know, i.e. with none of the "spin" you get from, say, Greenpeace or self-interested business.

    But this is about science as a collective enterprise and its values. It tells you little about personal motives and behaviour of individual scientists, who are just ordinary mortals like any politician, businessman or environmental activist. (By the way, people in business or politics are not evil either - it is just that the nature of their collective enterprise leads them to act in ways that serve their cause. We all understand that and "aim off" a bit when listening to what they say.)

    You, of course, would like to belittle scientists. We all understand that very well by now. But tough luck: nobody is going to argue scientists are saints.

    What would you like to attack next?
  8. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Hey, look, everyone - another thread by MR bashing science! Let's see how long it takes for this flaming/trolling thread to get cesspooled and MR banned for it.
  9. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Agreed. However, they are more "noble" than the typical ghost/UFO crackpot.
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  10. wellwisher Banned Banned

    If you look up the word noble, the first definition has to do with being part of the aristocracy; old fashion ruing elite. The second definition is about being of high moral character. In an atheist world of relative morality, the most common definition of noble would be connected to prestige of being treated like one is of the aristocracy.

    The noble motivation of the scientist could be the image of wanting to be important, or if one is more old fashion and not too liberal, it has to do with seeking the truth; absolutes.

    In terms of one example, second hand smoke from cigarettes was found not to be harmful, like the original sales pitch used to control behavior. Nobel science in the sense of truth, would make sure this fact is know and understood. While noble science in the sense of wanting to being part of an aristocracy, would trade their silence of this truth for a title or money. In this case, which noble dominates?
  11. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    MR, it may well be a "popular misconception...that scientists are more ethical and truthful and selfless than normal humans".
    Personally, I have never given credence to any idea that tries to "paint" any occupation/career/livelihood with a "broad brush".
    As far as being "Noble", and coincidently, at the same time "Humble" must agree MR, that we should all be thankful for the extremely "Noble" and coincidently, at the same time "Humble" Members of this Forum that selflessly and arduously work to maintain ethical and truthful decorum and proper respect for the entirety of not only the Real Sciences, but also for the Real Scientists.
  12. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    Opening up your ideas to scrutiny and criticism by your peers is close enough to heroic.
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  13. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    Really? Who discovered this, R. J. Reynolds?

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    The CDC says the second hand cigarette smoke is dangerous. Do you think the CDC is part of the liberal feminist conspiracy or something?

    I would like to read just one of your posts where you didn't make something up and state it like it was a fact!
  14. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Their overdefensiveness here is noteworthy, as if at any moment I'm going to blaspheme science and raise a ruckus in this graveyard of a forum. I almost feel like I'd disappoint them if I DIDN'T criticize scientists. But seeing they generally agree that the nobility of scientists, and by extention science, is something of a myth, I am satisfied that my point is made. Here's something interesting I found. Did you know approximately half of all medical literature is false? That's what a few medical journal editors are saying. Take a look:

    "In the past few years more professionals have come forward to share a truth that, for many people, proves difficult to swallow. One such authority is Dr. Richard Horton, the current editor-in-chief of the Lancet – considered to be one of the most well respected peer-reviewed medical journals in the world.

    Dr. Horton recently published a statement declaring that a lot of published research is in fact unreliable at best, if not completely false.

    “The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.”

    This is quite disturbing, given the fact that all of these studies (which are industry sponsored) are used to develop drugs/vaccines to supposedly help people, train medical staff, educate medical students and more.

    It’s common for many to dismiss a lot of great work by experts and researchers at various institutions around the globe which isn’t “peer-reviewed” and doesn’t appear in a “credible” medical journal, but as we can see, “peer-reviewed” doesn’t really mean much anymore. “Credible” medical journals continue to lose their tenability in the eyes of experts and employees of the journals themselves, like Dr. Horton.

    He also went on to call himself out in a sense, stating that journal editors aid and abet the worst behaviours, that the amount of bad research is alarming, that data is sculpted to fit a preferred theory. He goes on to observe that important confirmations are often rejected and little is done to correct bad practices. What’s worse, much of what goes on could even be considered borderline misconduct.

    Dr. Marcia Angell, a physician and longtime Editor in Chief of the New England Medical Journal (NEMJ), which is considered to another one of the most prestigious peer-reviewed medical journals in the world, makes her view of the subject quite plain:

    “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of the New England Journal of Medicine”===
  15. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    How do you know that what they are saying is "true"?
  16. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    They're editors of medical journals who review this literature. Seems like something they'd know alot about. Why would they lie about it?
  17. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    Don't confound MDs - or PhDs working in medicine - with PhDs.
  18. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Doctor as opposed to doctorate?
  19. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    Kind of like that. The first one has to prove something, or he gets the axe. The second likes that thing we call "the truth", which is less convenient.
  20. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Scientists ARE normal humans. They just work in STEM fields.
    Some are, and have been persecuted for their pursuit of truth. Today scientists working on climate change, vaccine development and evolutionary biology are often harassed, bullied and intimidated by people who stand to lose out from further research into these areas.
    Not everyone is out to "make lots of money" or "a name for themselves." But if your question is "are they normal human beings?" then the answer is yes.
  21. Schmelzer Valued Senior Member

    There is some (a little bit of) truth in this.

    Simply people who have an interest in making money or getting power usually will not choose to become scientists. There are other, more attractive jobs for such people - business, politics. Sadists become policemen - or chirurgs. If sloth is too great, he will not be able to finish the university successfully. The greedy will also look for another job.

    But regarding pride, egotism, and fame-seeking I would not make any claims, scientists can become famous, thus, scientist may be an attractive job for a fame-seeking guy, and I see no way how pride and egotism would influence the choice of the job.
  22. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    I'd think it all would depend upon each scientist and their values. If all one wants is money then they will go after just that but if true knowledge and helpfulness is what they are after then those are the ones who just do it for the love of knowing they have helped.
  23. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I can see a couple of different issues hidden in there.

    First, is the typical scientist a better person, ethically speaking, than the rest of us? I'd say probably not.

    Second, is science itself a more noble pursuit than other things that people might be doing instead? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on one's values, I guess.

    In the Western world, universities have never entirely lost the scent and aura of their beginnings in the medieval monastic cloister. There's this idea that university professors are a higher kind of person engaged in higher kind of calling. They aren't supposed to be motivated by base motives such as money. (Their own faculty labor unions apparently never got that memo.) Like monks, they are supposed to be closer, if not to God, then at least to the cosmic secrets. There's almost a kind of atheist spirituality associated with it.

    And from the 17th through the 20th centuries, what we today call "scientists" have gradually replaced classical scholars as the paradigmatic academics.

    I mean, who better embodies the renaissance magus, the initiate into mysteries, the wielder of terrible energies, than the physicist?
    Last edited: May 29, 2015
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