Bryan Bissell How many times do I have to post this for brainwashed people
Dr. Rick Szostack has a Ph.D. from Northwestern University and has been a professor of economics and interdisciplinary studies at the University of Alberta for over 25 years. Along with many other academics he writes about the realities of academia and the challenges of being objective.
Rick Szostak: "Classifying Science: Phenomena, Data, Theory, Method, Practice" by , p. 167-8.
Are scientists objective? No. Scientists are not computers but complex organisms with competing genetic drives and quite imperfect perceptual capabilities. They will often see what they want to see, or what they think it is important to see, and can be expected to miss much that either conflicts with or seems entirely extraneous to their view of the world? Are scientists completely subjective, then? No. While some methods are open to greater exercise of subjectivity than others, all require some confrontation with reality in a manner that limits the researcher's ability to ignore evidence that is uncongenial. This face will form a key element of the very definition of science to be proffered below. (p. 161).
Can group processes overcome (some) individual-level biases? Recall that individual scientists are influenced by biases. But, are often able to rise above these biases in order to achieve insights that challenged widely held beliefs and/or offend the powerful. At the level of communities of scholars...it can be hoped that no matter how strong the tendency towards bias...if contradictory results are evaluated seriously by the scientific community, bias will be overcome in the long run. Note, though, the two big "ifs"...As noted above, scientific evidence is never perfect, and no scientific method infallible. Real world evidence may thus not always be powerful enough to overwhelm bias. Collins and Pinch (19993) provide several examples for which they claim that certain theories were accepted or rejected by a scientific community despite ambiguous evidence. Moreover, the long run can be very long, and in human science especially the world may have changed long before scientists arrive at the correct interpretation of how it works. The point to emphasize here is that the question of bias is essentially an empirical question, not solvable by theoretical speculation alone and one that has been addressed to a very limited extent.
A naive view of science would hold that scientific debates are decided on the basis of which side marshals the most persuasive evidence and logical argument. To be sure, these are important; otherwise one could have little confidence that science would lead to understanding. But, humans are not (entirely) rational calculating machines. Students of rhetoric show that metaphor and story are important in making a compelling argument, and that this is as true in science as in everyday life. Thus scientists buttress their arguments with detailed (often hypothetical) examples, and strive to show how the relationship they posit is similar to another already widely accepted by the scientific community....To be sure, scientists in evaluating the evidence and theoretical arguments of another scientist can beneficially ask themselves if they can imagine compelling examples of the theory at work, and also whether the theory accords well with other elements of their scientific view (schema) of the world. However, a flashy story and facile analogy may too easily compensate for faulty logic and limited or misleading evidence. The antidote, again, is the conscious application of multiple methods to different types of data, and the clear statement of how well the evidence accords with the theory. Being aware of the rhetorical approaches that humans use and heed would also be helpful. Not surprisingly, some rhetoricians suggest that rhetoric trumps validity in determining scientific outcomes (see Brown, 1992; Montgomery (1996)...but while rhetorical practices have an influence, scientists can still aspire to considerable accuracy in their description of the world.
In the case of social biases, much can be achieved by the entry of large numbers of women and ethnic minorities into the world of science (though some ethnic groups, notably Aboriginals, are still hugely underrepresented, and so is the working class and especially the underclass)...Scientists can thus become more aware of potential biases. More generally, Palys (1997, 399) stresses the importance of not privileging any particular point of view; if scientists do so, they will then place alternatives at an unfair disadvantage by judging these in terms of the standards of their favored view. Scientists should strove for mutual respect and understanding. But, most centrally perhaps, scientists can strive to ensure that the scientific enterprise is open and empirical: that it takes conflicting views seriously, and subjects these to analysis through the use of (generally more than one) scientific methods.
Disciplinary biases may be of even greater important than cultural, political, or social biases. Moreover, disciplinary biases can reinforce the other types of bias (see Szostak, 1999). Scientists face much greater pressure to accord with disciplinary values than with wider societal values: their ability to be hired, promoted, published, heard, and cited are all influenced by their willingness to act in accord with disciplinary preferences with respect to theory, method, data, and the phenomena of study. Those who insist on using unusual theories or methods, or examining unusual topics, may find themselves ignored and even unemployed. It would be an unusual human being who would be completely impervious to such pressures. Scientific curiosity may drive research, but is itself shaped by the community..."
Note esp. this section (something I've said for years in almost the same words before finding this book)
Scientists face much greater pressure to accord with disciplinary values than with wider societal values: their ability to be hired, promoted, published, heard, and cited are all influenced by their willingness to act in accord with disciplinary preferences with respect to theory, method, data, and the phenomena of study. Those who insist on using unusual theories or methods, or examining unusual topics, may find themselves ignored and even unemployed. It would be an unusual human being who would be completely impervious to such pressures. Scientific curiosity may drive research, but is itself shaped by the community in which p. 167-8