Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Jig-saw science

If a whole paradigm is based on a flawed premise, what happens to all of its statements? To be coherent within the paradigm and true to the given premise, they all need to be systematically flawed of course!

I always feel like a jerk when reading scientific papers. I feel disrespectful and nonchalant. Usually I only get halfway through the abstract when the thought of being a no good Mr. Know-it-all pops up. By then, I've figured out what will inevitably follow, and so far my predictions have always been correct. Not that I question the content, the observations or the technicalities within the articles. On that level, what I read is likely to be way over my questinable intelligence. What I predict is that the conclusions will be flawed, that the data presented will be interpreted incorrectly. Or rather, the conclusions and interpretations will be correct in reference to the basic premise(s), and most of all, it will always be material for further research. It will elicit more questioning, new theories and more conceptualization. If done right, the effort made will maintain the need for more effort. The more we research, the more research is to be done.

If science was about telling the truth, this is not how one would imagines the state of affairs to be. As truth(s) were discovered, the need for more searching would decrease. Why look deeper into something you have already figured out? But, science is not about that. It is about generating "new" knowledge, not neccecarily "true" knowledge. Therefore, a flawed basic premise can be kept for as long as it generates statements that generates statements that ...
If the basic premise was corrected to be absolutely true instead of relatively true, we would soon hit the research rock bottom. We would instantly find ourselves on solid, immovable ground. Standing there, the compulsive searching for answers decrease dramatically. There is no uncertainty principle, no hidden substance, no mistaken identity. As I happen to know in what way the basic premise is flawed, this is what happens; I read, I detect implications of "agency" and "causality", I see confusion of "data" and "concepts", so I jump to summary and think "No, not that".

Now, I suppose most people think that a correction of premise(s) calls for us to start all over. I assume there is an idea of questioning the premise(s) will render all our current knowledge obsolete and even "useless". If that is what we believe, I fully understand the obvious resistance to consider this change. Not least within the academic community, right?
Here's the good news: all current knowledge is relatively correct. It need not be done again or in any particulary "new" fashion. It can be left as it stands. What a correction of the basic premise(s) will do is changing our perspective as we look at our knowledge. Changing perspective will alter the way we interpret our questions as well as answers. We will come to understand the nature of our knowledge. We will know what we know, and why we know it. That opens up for discussing what to do with it.

Imagine research as putting pieces together in a jig-saw puzzle. The more pieces we fit into the puzzle, the bigger it gets. The bigger it gets, the more images we detect. This is how knowledge seem to expand, and there is nothing within the picture pointing to any existing boundary of this knowledge. There are no frame pieces with straight edges. Our picture is vast and expanding and it is by all means beautiful and awesome. Why would anyone even consider ending this activity of building knowledge?
Someone could ask "What is it that can never be seen in this picture? This is the puzzeling question. This is the question about puzzeling.

One perspective in looking at the puzzle/picture is of the one fitting the pieces together.
One is of just seeing all of it, as it is, as it happens.

When you can read the writer as well as the written, you will know both equally well. There is no need to rewrite anything. There is a need to re-read what's already in front of our eyes, to re-hear our stories and to reconsider our considerations.
After seeing the whole puzzeling aspect of existence, not just the puzzle, there is nothing wrong in continuing with the jig-saw. It is "just" a map, but in order to move in the terrain of reality, a good map is of great use. It is because we are puzzeling in this way that humans are so efficiently navigating the environment. How could that be wrong?
Ok, it can lead to negative consequences if we are not aware of who we are and what we're doing. If we confuse the picture with the terrain and, most of all, if we keep our true self out of the picture and keep believing we are nothing but a self-image in a big picture.

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