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But What if Science is Wrong?

Wrongly applied, science itself can become a religion, and the scientific method a Bible. In But What If We're Wrong?, Chuck Klosterman addresses the possibility that the greatest certainties might one day be disproven. At one point, he sites previous "certainties" about dinosaurs as an example. They were once known to be cold-blooded like reptiles. But now it is a “fact” that they were warm-blooded like birds. Such reversals are a regular occurrence as the scientific community refines what is known. Klosterman explains how these changes affect how we feel about the new certainties:

Yet these kinds of continual reversals don’t impact the way we think about paleontology. Such a reversal doesn’t impact the way we think about anything. If any scientific concept changes five times in five decades, the perception is that we’re simply refining what we thought we knew before, and every iteration is just a “more correct” depiction of what was previously considered “totally correct.” In essence, we anchor our sense of objective reality in science itself—its laws and methods and sagacity … But what if we’re really wrong, about something really big?

Klosterman concludes by addressing the possibility that some of today’s scientific ideas might be proven false. How would it change the view of the universe? He said, “Philosophically, as a species, we are committed to this. In the same way that religion defined cultural existence in the pre-Copernican age, the edge of science defines the existence we occupy today.” But what if he's wrong?


Chuck Klosterman, But What If We're Wrong? Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past.” (Penguin, 2018), pp. 97-99

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