The problem, quite simple yet seemingly impossible to solve, lies in the way “science” is understood — or misunderstood (“Ramaphosa’s instinct in vaccine mandates correct, so drop the task teams and act”, November 30).
Many people think of science in terms of it “proving” things, of it being able to show what is “right”, or even of it being the “truth” about a subject.
Yet science does none of this. It is best seen as an ongoing inquiry whose conclusions are only ever provisional — that is, open to being shown later to have been mistaken. Meanwhile, it is the surest knowledge we have on a subject at any given point.
What prevents everyone from getting this? Why don’t they see that of course science disagrees with itself, so how can some people “know” that their facts and figures are correct and others are incorrect or even “fake news”? Why do so many of us suppose vaccines must work perfectly in all cases at all times or be rejected as if they don’t work at all?
Answers cannot lie in the “falsity” or “truth” of science out there, but in us, in our individual psychology, in what we are and “know”.
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