Fundamental Myths about Science
For a much more detailed treatment of this topic see my book: Science and Beyond: Toward Greater Sanity through Science, Philosophy, Art, and Spirituality.
Myth here is understood in a negative sense as a misconception, a popular false belief. The positive aspect of myth has been pointed out, for example, by Joseph Campbell in the Power of Myth.
Myth # 1: Science is defined by the scientific method. However, a close inspection of the process of science demonstrates that there is no single method that permits a delimitation of science from non-science and pseudo-science. First, scientists and philosophers of science don’t agree on what constitutes the scientific method, and second, an examination of the history of science and its present practice shows that scientists may use a variety of methods.
Myth # 2: Science delivers proof. Hence, scientific knowledge is proven knowledge. However, proof remains unattainable in science because we cannot know whether future observations and experiments will confirm what is considered “proven” at the present time. Therefore, we cannot have a final word in science: science remains open-ended.
Myth # 3: Replication of results reveals the Truth (that which is). But that which is includes also the uniqueness of things and events that cannot be replicated. Hence replication does not reveal the complete Truth, only an aspect of the Truth, namely that which can be replicated.
Myth # 4: Science is completely objective. But although objectivity remains important in science, it has more limitations than is normally recognized.
Myth # 5: The so-called laws of thought form the basis of scientific reasoning. However, these so-called laws of thought of Aristotelian logic have been shown to be severely limited and therefore may lead to the distortion of reality. They need to be supplemented by modern kinds of logic such as the principle of complementarity and fuzzy logic. In contrast to Aristotelian logic that is still widely used in science and everyday life, Buddhist and Jain(a) logic represent a much more inclusive view of reality and even point beyond logic.
Myth # 6: Language and mathematics, a form of language and logic, represent reality. However, language abstracts from reality, which means it selects certain features from reality and therefore represents at best aspects of reality. Language can be seen as a map of reality, and a map is not the territory (of reality). Therefore: “Whatever you might say something “is”, it is not” (Korzybski: Science and Sanity). Thus, whatever you might say you are, you are not. You are unnamable, mysterious.
Myth # 7: Science is empirical, that is, it is solely based on evidence. But in addition to evidence, science often also involves power, the power of individual scientists, organizations, and communities who decide which evidence is acceptable and which is not. Therefore, scientific knowledge often constitutes “power-knowledge” (Foucault).
Myth # 8: Science has to materialist. But although materialist science has led to innumerable insights, it has limitations that are surpassed to a great extent by holistic science such as quantum physics, holistic life science and holistic medicine.
Myth #9: Science is value-free. However, science may reflect cultural and societal values.
Myth # 10: Science tells us the Truth (that which is). However, science discloses at best aspects of the Truth. Philosophy, the arts, and spirituality reveal other aspects of the Truth.
Myth # 11: Eventually, science will solve all problems. But although science may solve innumerable problems and we cannot tell where it will lead, science, as we know it, has many inherent limitations, which limit the depth and scope of insight it provides.
These and additional misconceptions of science are examined in much greater detail and with examples in the new book by Rolf Sattler: Science and Beyond: Toward Greater Sanity through Science, Philosophy, Art, and Spirituality (www.RolfSattler.com). In this book it is pointed out how the widespread belief in these misconceptions may have grave and even devastating consequences as it was also evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. But becoming aware of these misconceptions that have hardened into myths can lead us beyond delusion and even beyond science to greater sanity, better health, more profound happiness, and peace.