chapter  4
8 Pages

Science and sciencisms 1

WithJack Cohen, Graham Medley, Ian Stewart

Sciences like physics are usually thought of as having something of the same basic structure, with the middle being solid and reliable, and the edges being frontiers to which intrepid physicists are adding further pieces. This image suggests that a ‘real’ science, like physics or organic chemistry, is like a factory with outbuildings which will in time serve as way stations for more remote future frontiers. There is, in most people’s minds, a ranking of the sciences. Physics, especially atomic physics, is among the most prestigious, while chemistry, biology, psychology and sociology are progressively ‘softer’. Chemists doing biology attempt to impose homogeneity by extracting mitochondria or other bits, and then working with them as if they were copper sulphate. They seek similarities, even between the muscle of mussels and mice. Every measurement made in science has many decisions that it rests on. Convergent science makes these decisions.