John C. Wright is one of my favorite authors. He writes science fiction and fantasy in the rich old style where you sometimes have to back up and roll the sentences around in your mouth to really appreciate it.
Mr. Wright was, er, unimpressed with the latest Star Wars movie; so unimpressed that even after writing thousands of words about what they did wrong, he still wasn’t satisfied, so now he has decided to do it right. Well, kind of.
Here is a worthy cause to contribute to if you want to help rescue Western myth from the barbarians who have sacked popular culture and now wander about its once great halls dragging their bloody axes over the marble floors and crapping in the corners.
What if science doesn’t work? What if it is all just an exercise in useless speculation that is never right? That may seem like an odd question for me to ask as I type on a digital computer to make data go over copper wires and glass fibers to be stored on magnetic disk, possibly one day to be delivered on electromagnetic waves via an orbiting satellite–but it’s a serious question. Modern technology is often taken as proof that science works, but is it? Clearly something works, but is it science or is it something else that science takes credit for?
I bring up the question now after reading about the latest project to attempt to reproduce important psychology experiments (found here). The project found only half of the previous results to be reproducible. These are important, widely cited experiments whose results have found their way into all the standard textbooks. In other words, this was settled science a few hours ago, but today the results cannot be reproduced. Nor is this unusual; there have been a number of attempts to reproduce experiments in various fields over the last few years (see here and here), and 50% is actually a good result compared to some of the others.
Continue reading “What if Science Doesn’t Work?”