Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The 6 Commandments of Science

Part of me hates the idea of putting together a 10 Commandments of Science. After all, science doesn't have rigid rules handed down from on high - that is part of what makes it so effective. Having a list also will likely feed into the "science is just another religion" bullshit out there.

But my hope is that those will be minor compared to the impact of seeing a list of commandments that are both relevant to our current moral standards, and that are adhered to so uniformly by scientists, but not so much by their enemies. So with that, courtesy of a poster named Hoary Puccoon on this thread at Evolutionblog, I give you:

"The Six (and counting) Commandments of Science

1) Thou shalt not lie. Fudging data is a mortal sin, enough to terminate one's career.

2) Honor thy fathers. You must give credit to the previously-published work of other scientists.

3) Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Misrepresenting another scientist's work merits public exposure and condemnation. (The creationists never understand just how immoral their quote-mining seems to scientists.)

4) Love thy neighbor. Ad hominem arguments are not acceptable in scientific discourse.

5) By their works ye shall know them. If Linus Pauling is a legend and Watson and Crick are complete unknowns, whose model of DNA is accepted? W&C's-- because theirs is right and Pauling's was wrong.

6) Let your yeas be yeas, and your nays, nays. Scientists must define their variables explicitly, and not fudge and say, 'oh, I really meant something else' if their hypothesis is disproven. (This is actually why theism versus atheism doesn't much matter in practicing science. God, whether he/she/it exists or not, is too fuzzy a variable to produce clear results.)

Fabuluous stuff. I'll add:

7) The facts will lead us out of the land of ignorance. We shall hold no fact above all others. In science, everything is fair game for inquiry and challenge.

More as I think of them.

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