There is a Yeti in the back of everyone’s mind; only the blessed are not haunted by it. ~ old sherpa saying

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Infrastructure of Science

Well, yes, I did say "fuck science." In that context, I meant it.  (see post below.)

There are those that consider proof only that which will be acknowledged by science. There are others who think the proof Bigfoot, or UFOs, or ETs, or ghosts, etc. exist because they're experienced those things, so it seems silly to offer "proof." There was proof. Proof in the experience of the witness.

Then things get circular and silly. "I saw a Sasquatch!" (Sasquatch can be replaced with UFO, ghost, Nessie, Mothman, ...) "Yea? Prove it." "Er, I can't, but, well, I did." "Snort."

Even if the response is "Cool for you but who else will believe it without proof we're lost" that still speaks to the need for approval from science.

Most of us want to find out what Sasquatch is. Is Sasquatch an ape, a human, an ET, a fairy, an elemental, a species all unto itself, a bear, a ....? Science can help us find out.

But things get quickly confused. Some think any rejection of science is wrong. It's assumed that there's a war going on between "science" and everything else. Non-scientists but those leaning towards science as a tool and a guide often want to be taken seriously by science. So they reject the more Fortean, crazy accounts of Bigfoot encounters. The argument is: "We have a hard enough time being taken seriously; let's not throw in UFOs and telepathy and other nonsense." Understandable. But in my opinion, wrong.
You can't possibly get at the thing if you toss out some of the parts.

So here's where I get to the "fuck science" part. Said bluntly it's not mean tto be freakin' literal.  As the snarky hard core skeptic often likes to say "If you hate science so much you wouldn't be using the computer you're writing on science brought you that you know." Yes, I know. And thank you. I love my computer and other toys!

It's not a war, but it's assumed it is and everyone jumps on a side. You're either "for" or "against." Sort of how some view the government: the government works for us, we don't work for the government. They're accountable to us. Science, as an infrastructure, is the same. It works for us. We're in this together.

So, being cheeky sometimes and I may say "fuck science" let's settle down. Science is a path, a journey, a process, a philosophy, a tool. We need science and anyone who says differently is silly. We know that. We do.

Along with using science to help us as we journey through mysteries, are other tools as well. This doesn't mean we're rejecting anything. It means we're broadening our perspectives.

Insisting the only way to find Sasqauatch is through rigid methods set up by one narrow aspect of science is, I think, non-productive.  Even if that way brought us a body, we're still left with many unanswered questions, including those of more paranormal or esoteric nature. And we're also left with ethical questions concerning habitat, and laws, and our relationship with the environment. Not to mention more metaphysical questions about intelligence and life.

The thought occurred to me as I was leaving a comment on Melissa Hovey's blog that it'd be interesting to see Bigfoot teams include Forteans (for lack of a better term) in their search. Often times there are skeptics, why not that? I think we'd get to some interesting places if we did that.

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