Real Science

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Among the hundreds of self-congratulatory yard signs scattered around my fair city, one of the most common is this:

I have no disagreement with any of those points (although I’ve never felt the need to festoon my front yard with a declaration of my many, many virtues). Still, I thought I’d share a little anecdote with you.

Years ago, I bought an old science book from the late 19th century. I don’t remember where I bought it, but I just thought it would be cool to own something that a student from 1894 would have actually used day to day. I even discovered a couple of pressed flowers between the pages, which made it even more charming.

I decided to crack it open last night, having not looked at it for many years. Here’s the title page:

Science, let us remember, is only as good as what we know now. The problem with humans is that, through the ages, we assume that what we know NOW is finally correct, and all the goofballs from centuries past didn’t know what they were talking about. But here, now, at long last, we’ve finally got it right.

We believe that today. And I’m sure in 1894, they felt the same way.

So let’s take a look at a couple of gems I found for you on this book (let me pound the desk emphatically and make plain I am not advocating these notions; I simply want to highlight that these were the science facts as offered to countless students back in the day):

…….then they really ramp it up to an “11”………

So, as for science being real, I understand, and I appreciate the importance of knowledge, experiments, and progress. But how about a little humility about how much we understand at any given point, yes?