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Seeking scientific tenets

  1. May 27, 2010 #1
    Seeking "scientific tenets"

    For example, the medical profession has, "First do no harm"; a tenet establised by Hipprocates. Are there any similar ones for physics? Like, "first test it" or something like that?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 27, 2010 #2
    Re: Seeking "scientific tenets"

    "Strive to be objective no matter who is funding your research."
  4. May 27, 2010 #3
    Re: Seeking "scientific tenets"

    Thy be atheist seems like one.

    However you bring up a good point. Could they have worked on the nuke bombs if they had taken the same oath doctors take?
  5. May 27, 2010 #4
  6. May 27, 2010 #5
    Re: Seeking "scientific tenets"

    LOL! I'm not actually trying to make any religious or ethical points. I know that makes this thread much less interesting, so I apologize! I'm just thinking about how even scientists are human. It's, therefore, essential for scientists to separate personal biases from scientific inquery in order to move science forward. I was just wondering ways that scientists have reminded themselves of this to keep their biases in check and to keep progress moving. Pattonias' quote is along these lines. I also like this quote from Lee Smolin, "It's possible to make progress on seemingly impossible tasks if one just ignores the skeptics and gets on with it."

    Great link vociferous! It's interesting, though, none of the proposed "oaths" really take into account keeping an open mind. The closest to that idea that it has listed "I promise never to allow financial gain, competitiveness, or ambition cloud my judgment in the conduct of ethical research and scholarship." But that's really about overcoming greed rather than overcoming a fixed metal view of the world.
    Last edited: May 27, 2010
  7. May 27, 2010 #6


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    Re: Seeking "scientific tenets"

    Interesting idea, Hoku. Not much was taught in this area when I was in school. Although one of my biology professors warned against "falling in love with you hypothesis." That may not lead to intentionally unethical actions, but it sure can lead to lousy science.
  8. May 28, 2010 #7
    Re: Seeking "scientific tenets"

    that would be more of an anti-tenet, wouldn't it?


    "When a conclusion is attractive, I am tempted to lower my standards." Richard Muller


    "To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact."
    Charles Darwin


    "It is better to know nothing than to know what ain't so."
    Josh Billings
  9. May 28, 2010 #8
    Re: Seeking "scientific tenets"

    Tenet/anti-tennet, glass half full/glass half empty. It's all on your point of view I suppose!

    Thanks lisab and Andre for your contributions. Andre, I like your signature saying as much as the others you contributed! lisab, I like yours, too. It's a different category but still a gem. I should just browse peoples signatures.... :tongue:
  10. May 28, 2010 #9
    Re: Seeking "scientific tenets"

    In general, I think science tends to be distinct from medicine in that it is amoral (not to be confused with immoral). As far as I know, no one in grad school ever tells you how you should and shouldn't use your knowledge. Some fellow physicists I know don't believe in working for the government making bombs, others think that this would be really cool. I guess that since no one's life tends to be in the hands of a physicist (at least not directly), the discipline didn't evolve any sort of ethical training.

    The exception here would be scientific integrity. We are taught never to falsify our data or do other such things. But this one should be obvious.
  11. May 28, 2010 #10


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    Re: Seeking "scientific tenets"

    Anything that can go wrong will go wrong? Or is that just in biology..
  12. May 28, 2010 #11
    Re: Seeking "scientific tenets"

    ...and at the worst possible time.

    Good corollary: "Nature always sides with the hidden flaw."

    I would say, when you feel a sense of certainty, it is time to re-evaluate your position.
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