Science Says Nothing

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Often, I come across articles or blog posts that contain phrases such as “Science says”, “The science shows” or something along those lines. This immediately raises red flags for me. Why? To put it simply, science isn’t a monolithic field of inquiry but a grouping that comprises a variety of analytic domains.

Many things fall under the heading of science: Biology; Geology; Technology; Physics; Linguistics; Cartography. Even mathematics, which is often considered its own peculiar study, is beneath the umbrella of science. All of these have in common a rigor and categorical approach to their application, yet they also have their own unique terminology and methods just the same. Therefore, when someone uses the word science by itself to justify an idea to you, be sure that they are oversimplifying or relying on incomplete knowledge.

For instance, I read an article a few weeks back that was in part premissed by the assertion that “science says” all the building blocks and information needed to create a unique human life are present in a fertilized ovum (i.e. egg). This belief is a common one mainly derived from a misunderstanding about DNA, that it is essentially a blueprint for how to build a human being. Untrue. DNA is more akin to a set of tools used to build a specific entity. Blueprints are precise and contain all the specifics necessary to create a unique building. The same set of tools however can be used to construct an array of building types as DNA holds the potential to do with lifeforms. We see ample evidence of this in cross-species breeding and cloning, a process which does not create an identical replica of the original with the same DNA. (Also, twins.)

Bottomline, appeals to science have become a kind of crutch for weak arguments best taken with several grains of salt. Besides, a skeptical mind is a terrible thing to waste.

(Apologies to the UNCF.)

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