Rus Articles Journal

Why we trust science? Part I

K to it we get used since the childhood, from school. Even when we do not understand something, it is enough to hear the phrase “scientists proved“ or “with scientific reliability“, and doubts leave. Trust - a valuable resource which many would like to use. Various doubtful doctrines put on a mask a naukopodobiya, seeking to convince public of the correctness. As a result the concept of science is washed away and somewhere in the depth of consciousness the question ripens: and why, actually, we trust it? And there are unrecognized “geniuses“ who with great feeling condemn the “inert official science“ incapable to apprehend their ideas. Even sometimes it becomes difficult for scientist to understand, “where the truth where deception“. There is a key question: and why the science in general has so privileged position in our society? Why at school spend time for it, but not on myths or esoteric doctrines? And whether it is possible to distinguish the real science from counterfeit in general?

Questions of trust are among the most delicate and at the same time the most important in our life. Whether you trust brakes of the car? And to the government of the country? And to the employer, bank, doctor, wife, child, own eyes, at last? Usually last experience is a trust source. So, daily risings and sunsets convince us that alternation of day and night will continue and in the future. If you are 30 years old, then samolichno you could be convinced of reliability of a sun only about 10 thousand times. It is not enough: if for the last year at your car brakes did not refuse, consider that they are checked several times better.

we every second rely

In everyday life on a huge set of other habitual phenomena: combustibility of gas in the stove, solubility of sugar in tea, falling on the earth of the thrown stone, hardness of bricks of the house, transparency of air - the list it is possible to continue infinitely, and all its points are checked by us approximately in the same degree as change of day and night. If each of them “failed“ all time in one thousand years, we daily would observe miracles, and, as a rule, unpleasant. Surprising reliability of a world order in general forces us to look for in it manifestation of rather small number of the highly reliable principles. This idea is the cornerstone of science. And therefore many are shocked, having learned that scientific theories are never proved, are never disproved and quite can contradict with each other and experiment.

“As can trust

to such science?!“ - the reader has the right to exclaim. On this question it is possible to give the short answer:“ Because the science bears obvious and useful fruits and trust, therefore, is effective“, and it is possible the internal mechanisms of a scientific method - deployed, opening, than we partly also will be engaged below. Though the science develops already more than two thousand years, scientists still continue to get rid of illusions concerning the fact that represents scientific knowledge. And those who specially are not interested in science philosophy often and today stay in the power of the delusions opened at the beginning of the last century. To understand it, we will begin, as they say, from an oven.


In the ancient time did not separate from astronomy and comprised the research program assuming existence of a causal relationship between the heavenly and terrestrial phenomena. Obvious communication of rhythms of life with year and daily cycles was the basis for it. Stimulated supervision which formed the basis of spherical astronomy. By the XVII-XVIII centuries it became clear that the assumption of a causal relationship of terrestrial events with the movement of planets is not confirmed by experience and it is incompatible with the new Newtonian research program. Astrology stopped being science and continues to exist more likely as psychotherapeutic practice.

Naive philosophy of knowledge

Natural sciences describe world around and the phenomena observed in it, seeking to explain already happened events and to predict future. The explanation brings an order in our ideas of the world, allowing to replace a set of the separate facts with a small number of the general rules which are much simpler for remembering. And, above all: the more the facts describes the rule, the higher for it trust and the more so it is suitable for a future prediction. The most general rules receive the special honourable status of “laws of the nature“.

In an extreme antiquity nobody looked for them purposefully, but some generalized rules were fixed in culture by practice. For example, the well-known Egyptian triangle with the parties 3, 4 and 5 units long which, irrespective of the size and material, it will be obligatory to have a right angle. Or not less famous rule connecting floods of Nile with emergence in the sky of Sirius. Similar rules passed from father to son without explanations and generalizations.

For the first time seriously thought of search of the general rules and their nature in Ancient Greece. Then the logic was systematically developed and there was an idea of the mathematical proof. The axiomatic geometry of Euclid which is taught at school to this day became top of the Greek science. But the proofs which were so remarkably working for mental mathematical objects were far not so reliable in everyday life. The Greek philosophers well understood that the mathematical circle is not the same that the circle drawn on sand at all. Therefore Platon divided the world on ideal and real. The first contains the faultless general rules and properties available to our mind`s eye, the second consists of their rough embodiments which only approximately follow ideal samples. It is possible to learn the general rules only it is speculative, trying to spot them in the ideal world. Attempts to bring them out of experience in the imperfect real world contradicted the spirit of ancient philosophy (though it was assumed that witty supervision can suggest the correct idea and help speculative knowledge).

did not favor the sublunary world and the Christianity which succeeded antiquity. But, though the source of laws in it was other, the way of their knowledge still did not assume the appeal to the real world. Without having the physics and cosmology (except for very general formulations of the Genesis), the Christianity borrowed speculative antique science and held it up to the beginning of revolutionary changes of Renaissance. The fact that, for example, the geocentric system of Ptolemaeus, without having any confirmations in the Scripture, nevertheless was perceived as an integral part of a Christian picture of the world is worthy surprises. So even Copernicus considered the heliocentric system of the world not as the theory reflecting a real order of things, and only as easier and convenient way of astronomical calculations.

the Geocentric system of Ptolemaeus

Described apparent motions of planets kinematic, without trying to look for the reasons of this movement. The found divergences between calculations and supervision forced to enter new amendments, complicating system. The heliocentric system of Copernicus simplified calculations, but was under construction on the former assumption of roundabouts of planets, and its accuracy was low too. Kepler, having allowed noncircular (elliptic) orbits, considerably increased accuracy. Later Kepler`s laws were output from laws of Newton which formed the basis of heavenly mechanics. In modern exact calculations also the amendments connected with the theory of relativity are considered.

Science of modern times

However Galilei who picked up Copernicus`s ideas was not so careful and began to check and as the world actually is arranged. It is necessary to recognize its appeal to experiment, by and large, as the science birth moment, in any case, in modern sense of this word. Actually Galilei offered new methodology of scientific research: instead of speculative knowledge of ideal laws he set the ambitious task - to comprehend the Creator`s plan for science, studying the real world created by it. In a sense such science was much more Christian, than the former medieval scholasticism (representing synthesis of Christian divinity and Aristotelian logic), constantly referring to Aristotle`s authority. Really, time the world is created by the Creator, it should be studied as thoroughly as the Writing, seeking to find in it faultless divine harmony.

This approach turned out

amazingly effective. It became clear that new laws and regularities nearly fall to you on the head. And surprisingly useful applications were quickly found for much of them (a pendulum clock, a chronometer with the spring balance weight, steam-engines, thermometers, etc.) . The science became the engine of technical progress which impressive achievements expressed eventually by money, the weapon and partly comfort (that is all what first of all interests financing science), sharply strengthened trust to new methodology of knowledge. The essence it was reduced to creation of natural sciences on a mathematics sample: from “axiomatic“ axioms to strictly proved theorems. Not incidentally fundamental work of Newton was called “The mathematical beginnings of natural philosophy“.

of the Divergence of the theory and practice which for Greeks were an immanent problem were become a source of tasks now, many of which managed to be solved successfully. It turned out that the huge number of the phenomena can be explained, proceeding from a small number of simple and beautiful laws - axioms which as it was considered, open it is speculative, thanks to intuition of the researcher, but are confirmed and proved by skilled check of the consequences following from them. Scientific theories were perceived as property of the most real world, it was necessary just to recognize them, “to read the book of the Nature“, and to validate several examples of reading. This approach received later the name of a dzhastifikatsionizm (from English justify - “to justify“, “prove“). The Dzhastifikatsionistsky foundation laid in the 17th century by works Galilee and Newton turned out so strong that throughout two centuries defined development of science. But crisis when the experimental data incompatible with the Newtonian physics began to appear was that more serious.

the Alchemy

Before other sciences went on an experimental way, having acquired a trial and error method many useful recipes. Properties of substances were explained by a combination in them primary elements - elements, but the predictive potential of alchemy was very low that partly masked esoteric spirit of the doctrine. The main prediction for existence of the “philosophers` stone“ capable to turn metals into gold and to prolong human life, led the alchemical research program up a blind alley. Since the XVII-XVIII centuries the chemistry which offers more consecutive explanation of properties of substances begins to develop and gradually comes to modern atomno - the molecular theory.
the Theory cannot be proved to

A of such examples by the end of the 19th century collected much. It was not possible to explain the small discrepancy in the movement of Mercury opened for Leverye in 1859 in any way. The planet orbit systematically “left“ from settlement. The deviation was tiny, only 43 angular seconds in century, but the evidential theory based on divine laws cannot be inexact. Other problem was thrown by newborn electrodynamics. According to Maxwell (1864) equations, electromagnetic interaction always extends equally quickly - with velocity of light. But it directly contradicts the principle of addition of speeds in Newton`s mechanics: how the ray of light can have identical speed, say, of rather moving train and the motionless platform? Besides, it was not possible to explain stability of atoms and regularity of thermal radiation within classical mechanics.

the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics which showed that Newton`s theory is not absolutely exact allowed to Cope with all these problems. Even it is worse than that, the basic principles of new theories were absolutely others. For the concept of a dzhastifikatsionizm it was the sentence. About any proofs it is natural - scientific theories could not be also speeches any more.“ Opening by Greeks of a critical method generated wrong hope that with its help it will be possible to find solutions of all great old problems in the beginning, to prove reliability of knowledge, to prove and justify our theories. However this hope was generated by a dogmatic way of thinking because actually nothing can be justified or proved (outside mathematics and logic)“ - the philosopher of science Karl Popper in the book “Assumptions and Denials“ published in 1963 so summarized crash of a dzhastifikatsionizm.


a difference Explanation between live and lifeless presence of special vital substance. It was not succeeded to allocate and study this substance, and development of biology showed that questions of functioning of live matter find an explanation within physics and chemistry. At the moment the vitalism merged with esoteric east doctrines and is expressed in ideas of aura and a biofield which existence the science does not recognize as by objective methods the similar phenomena are not registered.

in the Fall of 2006 in Russia the first started in the history of our country “monkey process“: the St. Petersburg schoolgirl Maria Schreiber and her father Kirill Schreiber tried to challenge in court legitimacy of teaching at school of the theory of evolution. Among arguments by which claimants proved the claims there was a statement that the Darvinian theory of natural selection “is not proved“ and is “no more than a hypothesis“. Having rejected as a result the claim, the court did not comment on this statement in any way, and these words as if hung in mid-air. Now they at each opportunity are repeated by opponents of the theory of evolution. Meanwhile more than forty years it is known that scientific theories in principle cannot be proved as they contain universal statements, and number of experiments always of course. Distinction between a hypothesis and the theory consists only in how they are perceived by scientific community. Widely recognized system of ideas is called the theory, and the private assumption needing confirmation (private experiment or a series) - a hypothesis. And in this sense evolution certainly the theory.

the Requirement “to bring evidence“ often it is necessary to hear also concerning other scientific concepts: theories of relativity, quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, cosmology of the Big Bang.“ The science never proves anything“, - with these words there begins the book “Reason and Nature“ the famous American anthropologist and the philosopher Gregory Beytson (Gregory Bateson). And this statement is placed in the head with the ironic name “Each School Student Knows“ hinting, probably, at the level of competence of those who with this thesis are unfamiliar. (Here, of course, it is necessary to make a reservation that it is about the natural sciences studying the real world. The abstract mathematics - the only area of researches where strict proofs are possible, - natural sciences is not among.)