Auld Lang Syne

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Science and Deception

I found this quote today from Albert Einstein:

Science is nothing but what we call common sense. Since the purpose is to understand the world as it really is, and not to persuade anybody of anything in particular, there is no place in science for deception, especially unconscious self-deception. The scientist cannot get away with fooling himself. Because all that will happen at the end of the process if you fail to detect your errors is that your aeroplane will not fly. The laws of nature, you see, cannot be deceived. So there is a strong underlying ethical principle woven into the very fabric of the scientific process — something which is all too often overlooked. Would it not be wonderful if the same were true in certain other fields of human activity?

taken from the chapter on intellectual integrity in The Habit of Thought by Michael Strong

So I'm thinking that there have to be some politicians out there whose aeroplane will not fly. Denying science is a dangerous plan. We can look to those houses of cards which fell (they always fall) because basic building principles were not followed (such as use the proper foundation, use the right and appropriate materials, etc) and we see that Congress right now is acting penny-wise and pound-foolish. In their obsession to reward those who make nothing, create no jobs, fund no projects that make jobs, they are content to sit while the country burns. After all, they are paid good money to deny science, to deny problems, to create sound-bite scenarios that support them and their cronies. We are in the grip of fools whose aeroplanes are spewing smoke from the tail. They think a massive deception, loudly wrought, will keep the damned thing aloft. Again, science will win. Climate change, massive infrastructure decline, crumbling economic gravitas, all fixable. But denying and decrying is the smoke on the horizon here. SOMEONE needs to do something.

So what is the job of the poet in all of this?

We have no money to lobby. We only have our words and our art. We are the twin sister/brother to science. Time for us to speak out. We need to give voice to the climate, honor the bridge, wail against the wall of power until it comes down.

I'd say the time is now for a few good poets to speak up.


  1. Well said and certainly a most needed "call to arms" (words of truth)!

  2. Great quotation and comment Carol. I shall share this on Facebook and probably steal the quotation!