Objectivity among scientists and engineers

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Main Question or Discussion Point

Do you think scientists and engineers are trained to be more objective than others, or are perhaps born more objective than others and thus are drawn to their fields? Is it all about trying to analyse the objective universe? Or are we merely subjective creatures who deal with science through consensus?

I already know my own answer, I'm curious what others think.
 

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  • #2
russ_watters
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I think scientists and engineers become scientists and engineers (in general) because objective reasoning is the dominant component of their psyche. The opposite then be lawyers who are more subjective than objective.

But science itself depends on objective reasoning. So the people and the field go hand in hand.
 
  • #3
selfAdjoint
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That's a bad hit on lawyers. If you read court judgements you find that judges are obsessed with fitting the facts of each case into the existing structure of legal facts and decisions. And lawyers are trained to cooperate with judges in this effort - it is the best way to win cases. Of course in our court system layers have to spin things for their side, but that is not a failure of objectivity. it's just professionally doing theor job.
 
  • #4
No more objective

Scientists are no more objective than anyone else. If they were objective the false Theory of Evolution would have already been dismissed.
 
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O Great One, who told you that you are allowed to respond to my threads? Go home.
 
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Originally posted by Adam
Do you think scientists and engineers are trained to be more objective than others, or are perhaps born more objective than others and thus are drawn to their fields?
Call me cynical but I think the purpose of engineering school is to make students more objective and the purpose of management (when the students get jobs) is to make them more subjective (and subservient to what upper management wants).

Don't believe me? Read Feynman's report on the first space shuttle disaster. Or work for any major engineering firm.
 
  • #7
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by Adam
Do you think scientists and engineers are trained to be more objective than others, or are perhaps born more objective than others and thus are drawn to their fields? Is it all about trying to analyse the objective universe? Or are we merely subjective creatures who deal with science through consensus?

I already know my own answer, I'm curious what others think.
I'm not sure about what typically attracts a person to the sciences. For me it was the need to know...plain and simple. When it comes to math, physics and engineering, there is clearly a kind of objectivity burned in...I was going to say through repetition...LOL. Gees, I thought I knew what I was going to say. How does one become objective through repetition? We learn to recognize proper logic?

I can remember when I was first learning calculus that at times I would understand something perfectly. It made perfect sense. Then I would realize that I was completely wrong. Then the new perspective seemed just a logical as the false one did. But the original way of thinking no longer made any sense at all. What amazed me was how quickly this could happen. This reminds me of the illusions that one can make look on way and then another at will. Still though, the rigor of mathematics is hard to deny.
 
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Response by O great one
Scientists are no more objective than anyone else. If they were objective the false Theory of Evolution would have already been dismissed.
Ah, the true believer, come to fight the good fight.
 
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I think that scientists and engineers are more objective, within their fields of study. They are taught to, and usually strive to maintain objectivity. Many other fields of endeavor do not have this emphasis on objectivity (indeed, music would be much poorer, if it was performed completely objectively), so don't attain as much objectivity.

As inane as O great one was in his post, it is true that scientists and engineers are still not completely objective - after all, they are human. An excellent example of this would be the small group of scientists that have tried to foist creationism on us.

The genius of the scientific system is that it can handle this. The self-correcting nature and motivations within it's system means the system will correct erroneous conclusions, sooner or later
 
  • #10
RageSk8
Scientists are no more objective than anyone else. If they were objective the false Theory of Evolution would have already been dismissed.


I think that scientists and engineers are more objective, within their fields of study. They are taught to, and usually strive to maintain objectivity. Many other fields of endeavor do not have this emphasis on objectivity (indeed, music would be much poorer, if it was performed completely objectively), so don't attain as much objectivity.
Well, no offense, but this says very little, if anything at all. Your conception of objectivity is centered around science to begin with, so of course you feel the way you do. You probably draw a distinction between facts and values (I do not). I however, no surprise here, do not feel that scientists are more objective than artists, historians, writers, or musicians (although, all of said professions on average are more objective than politicians).
 
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  • #11
Another God
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I don't think its that the people who do science are anymore objective, but rather that the process of reporting scientific enquiry must be done first and foremostly in an objective fashion,a nd then secondly in subjectivity.

Look at any science paper and you will see an introduction which explains what people beforehand have done and the situation as it is understood. From this situation the first thing that the paper does is say objectively what was done in the experiment, and then secondly it says objectively what happened.

Doesn't matter what the person is like, if they follow the rules, don't fudge answers or pre-empt with what they think should happen, then these two parts of the paper (Methods and results) will be objective.
Thats where the objectivity stops. The objective in science is central, but by itself it is useless. Facts are meaningless unless put into perspective, unless given meaning by the people observing them. So, following the results section you find a section dedicated to discussion. It is within this section that the scientist 'interprets' what the results mean. They offer possibilities, thoughts, theories, and possible reasons for the observations.

The real advantage of this system is that anyone anywhere in the world should be able to read this paper and instantly see where the writer is forced to be objective and where their subjective interpretation comes into it, and so they can quickly assess the subjective interpretation themselves and offer other theories to explain the observations.
 
  • #12
Another God
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Originally posted by O Great One
Scientists are no more objective than anyone else. If they were objective the false Theory of Evolution would have already been dismissed.
The false Theory of Evolution has been dismissed already. Didn't you hear? They replaced it with the true theory of evolution...Its basedon what they call natural selection. No supernatural forces are required in the true version.
 
  • #13
Phobos
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Originally posted by Adam
Do you think scientists and engineers are trained to be more objective than others, or are perhaps born more objective than others and thus are drawn to their fields?
A little from column A, a little from column B.

Is it all about trying to analyse the objective universe?
A foundation of science is the axiom that (objective) reality exists. Another axiom is that that reality is understandable. Without that worldview, it's kind of tough to do good science. Engineering is similar (but a bit more practical than philosophical).

Or are we merely subjective creatures who deal with science through consensus?
Science is a tool for understanding. Its laws and theories require consensus among experts and agreement with tests in reality. The Method acknowledges subjectivity and therefore requires the consensus of experts to weed that out.
 
  • #14
Phobos
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Originally posted by Another God
The false Theory of Evolution has been dismissed already. Didn't you hear? They replaced it with the true theory of evolution...Its basedon what they call natural selection. No supernatural forces are required in the true version.
Where's that ROTFLMAO smiley?
 

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