Reading this reminded me of the academia of my undergraduate years at a large, public research university. I was turned off of the idea of entering that world by the thought of spending most of one’s life learning/repeating what others have already done, with a tiny sliver of hope of eventually contributing something new. It’s unquestionably necessary (and I’m growing to appreciate it more and more), but takes a certain type of person…
Because at the end of the day science does not rely on the rationality of a scientist. It relies on the cumulative and self-correcting rationality of the scientific community. It is the “wisdom of the crowds” at its apotheosis. […]
I do not believe that physics is such an awe inspiring science in comparison to biology simply because physicists are more intelligent. They are more intelligent, on average, but that in an of itself does not explain the ability of physics to predict at such a fine grained level. Rather, it is the subject matter of physics which is the variable that makes it so. […]
I bring this up because many scientists believe that because science is such a superior method of extracting information about the world around us, and constructing predictive models which have been shown to have great utility, that that means that they as scientists can simply transfer their godlike powers to other domains with the greatest of ease. But as the above should make clear I believe this is a false perception, because the power of science arises from the intersection of the communal wisdom of tens of thousands of individuals over decades with the nature of the subject at hand. Granted, there are individual geniuses of great brilliance such as the great Isaac Newton, but the outcomes of his dabbling in alchemy and scriptural hermeneutics should go to illustrate that cognition applied to a fool’s errand only results in glorious foolery.