"Scientific theories, which most people consider as 'fact,' almost invariably prove to be inaccurate. Thus, one should look upon any information described as 'factual' with skepticism since it may well be proven false in the future."
Write an essay in which you take a position on the statement above. In developing and supporting your viewpoint, consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true.
skepticism of scientific factsMy Essay:
It is always good to be skeptical of established ideas, norms, philosophies, and political systems. However, when it comes to science, although a health dose of skepticism is necessary to make breakthroughs, it is simply unwise to be skeptical of established scientific theories. The key here is that these theories are "scientific", meaning that they have been assessed through the scientific method, as opposed to simply being called "scientific" because a random scientist claimed his theories were factual.
The argument that scientific theories have always been contested and cannot be considered factual is often used by those who deny global warming. They claim that there is no such thing as settled science, as theories always change. Their proof? The fact that scientists thousands of years ago believed that the Sun and all the other planets rotated around the Earth, when in fact it was shown by Copernicus that the Earth orbited around the Sun. Is this not, as they say, a complete reversal on what was believed to be scientific fact? And if the geocentric theory was shown to be inaccurate, then who knows if our current scientific theories will also be shown to be false in the future? What proponents of this argument forget is that the geocentric model of the universe did not have its roots in science. Rather, it had its roots in Aristotelian philosophy, and the Christian belief system that claimed that man would be at the center of the universe. In fact, it was through science, and the scientific method that the heliocentric model was proven. Therefore, this example shows that it was not as if a scientific theory was refined and later replaced with another scientific theory. Rather, science triumphed over pseudo-science and religious belief, showing that it is only through science that we arrive at the truth.
Of course, it is good to have a healthy dose of skepticism. Before Einstein, every scientist thought that Newtonian mechanics could perfectly describe the universe and its various phenomena. However, it was Einstein who eventually that time and speed are relative, and introduced the concept of spacetime. The replacement of Newtonian mechanics with Einstein's general theory of relativity shows that scientific theories can be proven to be inadequate, or even wrong at times. However, it must be mentioned that Newtonian mechanics wasn't completely rejected. In fact, it is being used all the time, and is being taught to high school and freshman students in university. This is because although Newtonian mechanics failed to explain every phenomena in the universe, it explained basically all observable phenomena here on Earth, and works perfectly in describing everyday situations. After all, no one can physically experience the hundredth of a millisecond difference in aging between a man at sea level and a man standing on top of Mount Everest, as Einstein's theories claim. Therefore, although scientific theories can prove to be inadequate at times, it is simply wrong to claim that valid scientific facts are inevitably proven to be inaccurate in the future.
In conclusion, although skepticism and an inquisitive mind is necessary for science, skepticism of all scientific facts and theories is misguided. The scientific method has been proven to lead to correct facts and theories, even if these can fall short of describing every phenomena in the world. In the end, the scientific community might end up disagreeing on something like the rate at which the planet is warming, and the amount of time we as a society have left in reversing climate change, but the scientific fact of climate change has not changed, and no amount of misguided skepticism can change theories that have been scientifically proven to be accurate and sound.
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