Hume’s Critique of Science

 David Hume was a Scottish philosopher in the mid 1700s. His philosophy was a culmination of British empiricism. This was a tradition that began with Francis Bacon and continued through Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and then was critiqued rather effectively by George Berkeley. Berkeley had said that it is […]

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Science: It’s Tricky

I received a letter (yes, some people still send paper letters!) that contained a lovely quote from Max Planck. A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die. Perhaps Planck was being metaphorical about “dying,” […]

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How Wrong Beliefs Can Still Be Useful

One of my favorite historical stories is that of miasma theory. It is also known as the theory that bad air causes disease.  The scientific word “miasma” comes from ancient Greek and means “pollution.” More common usage adopted the medieval Italian word “malaria,” meaning “bad air.” As you probably have […]

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Perspective Shifts – Yes, But Which Kind?

I ran across this quote years ago and yesterday’s discussion with my students in ethics class brought it to mind. “Perspective shifts will unlock more than smartness will.” – Dr. Astro Teller There is wisdom in this quote, but like all wisdom, it has to go deeper than a slogan […]

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What if the Universe Is NOT Expanding?

Philosopher Thomas Kuhn argued that science is “a series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions” in which “one conceptual world view is replaced by another.” (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 1962) The longer-lasting, more tranquil periods of “normal science” are guided by a dominant paradigm. Astrophysics has been […]

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The Forgotten Brilliance of Henri Bergson

For several decades, French philosopher Henri Bergson (1856–1941) was probably the most famous philosopher in the world. He is now tragically largely forgotten because his work is incorrectly dismissed as mere speculation because it is not reducible to the methods of analytical philosophy. Bergson, similar to G.W.F. Hegel, thought of […]

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