The Limits of Science
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The scientific model has its own set of inherent weaknesses and a set of postmodern critics. Scientists assume that the universe and reality exist in the here and now and these can be known through application of the scientific method. This limits science to the natural world and excludes matters of religious faith. Jews and Christians argue that there exist other ways of coming to know such as divine revelation. 

Moreover, biases and acquisitiveness influence the objective application of the scientific method since science and scientists exist as part of the culture in which scientists work. Some of these identifiable biases in scientific objectivity include:

  • Gender-based inferences about males and females arising from an androcentric bias inherent in male-dominated archaeology (Conkey 1991, Conkey and Williams 1993).

  • The distance to be bridged between evidence and hypothesis warrants questioning since the assumption of cross-species conformity and the adoption of animal modeling is highly questionable when applied to early human beings (Longino and Doell 1983).

  • Self-fulfilled prophecy dealing with data and its collection i.e., the relationship between the observer and the people to be studied (Conkey and Williams 1993).

  • Politically constituted nature of knowledge and its historical embellishments (di Leonardo 1991).

  • The "content-stripping" attributes of the scientific research paradigm lying in the assumption that general laws must be "context independent, free of specific constraints of any particular context and therefore applicable to all" although human action and experience remain context-dependent (Mishler 1979:2).

  • Concealment, manipulation, and falsification of research data to reach desired or preconceived conclusions for personal ends (usually to achieve or maintain monetary support, donors agendas, and academic prestige), political change, and/or economic goals (such as the redistribution of wealth from the prosperous to the impoverished as evidenced in the global warming scam advanced by Marxists, socialists and political progressives).

  • Other factors a researcher brings to the research situation, i.e., intellectual and emotional baggage. Concerning a shift in applied anthropology practice von Willigen writes "certain anthropologists came to feel that social scientists cannot separate their work from real-world values, and that to do so creates a dangerous illusion of true objectivity" (von Willigen 1993:28).

While one would hope that such biases would have minimal impact they are far more pervasive than scientists would like to admit. For a good contemporary example read Funders, Politics and Bias by Hershel Shanks in the Jan/Feb 2009 issue of the Biblical Archaeology Review 36.1.

Nevertheless, such biases do not exist at such a level nor reach such a magnitude as to warrant the rejection of the scientific method as some postmodernist thinkers seek. The scientific method has shown itself to be the most effective means for coming to know when utilized by ethical, objective, non-politicized scientists (i.e., they have no "ism" underlying their work). Remember, science has nothing to prove and science is not a weapon for political hacks to espouse their ideologies. When scientists tinker with the data to reach their personal and social objectives they do not practice science but rather fraudulent pseudoscience with all the class of mafia dons.

Page last edited: 12/19/09 11:30 PM


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