Main Question or Discussion Point
I recently explained to a young teenager that one of the things that makes science great is that you don't have to "take people's word for stuff". Science differs in that if you don't just have to blindly believe and accept dogmatic arguements. You can always just go out and perform an experiement to see the results for yourself. This objectivity and repeatability has always been a major strength for science and sets it apart from authoritative philsophies like those underlying religion. That discussion got me thinking though about whether this is still true in modern science. Nowdays scientific disiplines are such broad fields that you usually have only a few specialized experts with detailed knowledge who are doing research in a particular area. Others almost have to just "take their word for it" because to check their results would require years of training. Also, as we probe deeper into natures secrets, we require increasingly sophisticated and complex machinery. I can't, for example, build my own large hadron collider to double check the results of physicists working there. How do I know that the results aren't just a peculiarity of that particular machine or location? Anyway, it seems to me that modern science is moving toward a philosophy where arguements from authority hold more sway than they used to. What are your thoughts on this matter?