Shades of Gray In A World of Black And White

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One of the most apparent handicaps of the human brain is grouping ideas and concepts into dualities. Whatever the subject might be, there are always two opposing positions. The vast majority finds it easy to either side with the one or the other. Thing is, for most things in life, the answer often lies in different paths.

It is important to note here that the above statement does not imply that the truth is necessarily a particular shade of gray. There can be multiple paths in order pursue the same truth and almost always it depends on context and time. Even when one tries to perform an experiment the individual owes to specify with extreme accuracy the time period, geographical location and methods for analyzing a specific position.

Let’s assume that someone attempts to argue for the general idea of science. On one side of the argument we have the clear position that scientific papers carry validity no matter what. All the processes involved, from the methods to peer review are taken for granted since these are embraced from a specific sets and practices that are followed religiously from the given establishment. On the other side we have the complete mistrust of the scientific method. All science is funded from specific interests and even the peer review is poised from inner circles. The interested parties support one another in order to ascend the ladders academia or promote their own agendas.

Somewhere in the middle of all these there must lie the truth. Thing is, it will be impossible to decipher from such generic statements where the truth lies. And mind you, truth in this case, is not important. What is important in this case is the area of science that we try to examine. For example, if our subject area are sociological studies for the betterment of society then we will discover that most of these studies are indeed heavily biased. Their findings stem primarily from governmental grants that aim to use the results as a form of social engineering for society.There is no other use for these studies other than indicate parameters upon which the individual owes to follow in order to fit in a particular culture in a particular country. Most psychological studies do much the same. This is also the reason that we find it extremely hard to replicate such studies. They almost always never follow the formal scientific practices but rather reverse engineer the process. They take the problem and try to find a solution. As we all know, this is not how science works.

In contrast, hard science like biology cannot be easily misconstrued. This is especially true if it happens to be incorporated with some kind of engineering. No amount of peer review and government approvals will make an engineering finding true or false. The true judge will be time and how this discovery will be implemented in a machine. The machine will either work or fall apart. Reality will be the judge and not some apes that decided based on political and personal interests to label something as valid.

For most people the above analysis might sound tiresome and intriguing. After all, many scientists argue extensively about the above processes while the public is mostly in the dark. The arguments are often won democratically. That is, if one rounds up enough support about a specific idea then there is a larger consensus from the community to accept it as true.

I often ignore what the scientific consensus believes about a specific subject. What interests me is to pursue the truth in regards to how this is expressed in the real world. It might be a machine, an industry utilizing the findings in entrepreneurial situations or through the process of time something is revealed to be true or not. Everything else is politics and people trying to convince one another when their findings are not so robust.

As you can see, it will impossible to just make the generic statement “science works” or “sciences do not work” since each case has its own parameters. For the average observer though that happens to watch an argument about social sciences and then another about engineering the arguer (let's assume myself) seems that they contradict themselves. They will think that I am supporting science at one time and reject it on another.

It’s not only hard to explain these sensitive details to people. It is dangerous for one’s reputation since most of the time we are trying to convince large amounts of people that know little about what is being discussed. This is the reason even experts on these subjects sell their souls and take the extreme position (either pro or against something). With this stance, it becomes clear to the average person where the arguer stands. The “politician's way” as we all know it, is so successful because they manage to over-generalize to such an extent their position that they make sure to snatch a particular group of people while opposing others. It is a classic military tactic were one gets the support of loyal followers while making sure they draw the line in regards to whom they are opposing.

Explaining shades of gray thus becomes a dangerous endeavor. Most people will get confused and they will perceive the position of the arguer as weak or treacherous. Nobody has ascended in positions of power by having integrity in these matters. Almost everyone realizes that there is no point in trying to explain things to people and would rather play them along for one’s benefit. And there is nothing easier than presenting clear concepts much like in the movies. There is the good, the evil and nothing in between.

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Engineers are the ultimate Popperians. Consensus is for politicians.

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indeed my friend indeed

They have an easy job. The most population is below average.

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sadly yes