On the way to the Caltech faculty club (the Athenæum) for lunch, a few physics grad students were arguing the question, "How can one determine scientific Truth?" Is good science something that gets validated by experts in the field? If so, who picks the experts, and how are their judgments weighed and resolved when the graybeards differ among themselves? Alternatively, is Truth a mere social consensus with no greater claim to respect than any other opinion? Or is there perhaps no such thing as scientific Truth? Is everything we "know" subject to refutation?

Stephen Hawking was then (~1977) a visiting scholar and was rolling along with us in his motorized wheelchair. He grinned when we asked him who had the authority to answer such questions, and simply advised, "Ask Nature!"

Tuesday, January 18, 2000 at 06:06:24 (EST) = 2000-01-18

TopicProfiles - TopicPhilosophy - TopicPersonalHistory

(correlates: CreepingConfidence, Mostly Sane, Steely Eyed Missile Man, ...)