BIOLOGY 103
FALL, 2003
FORUM 1

On science, and science education, ... and life


Name:  Nomi Kaim
Username:  nkaim@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  How is Science like Life?
Date:  2003-09-03 13:42:26
Message Id:  6312
Comments:
How is the process of science similar to life itself? Well ...

- Neither provides clear or objective "answers"
- Both strive for (but cannot attain) objectivity
- Both often take you to a place other than your predicted end-point
- Both sidetrack (and annoy) you with unforeseen things, information, events, various blockades than hinder or change your path
- Both are easier understood when reduced, divided up, compartmentalized
- Aspects of both seem more meaningful to us when we assign them labels
- Just when you think you've got it under control and figured out, it often appears the world / destiny has other plans in store
- You're never quite sure of what questions you're supposed to ask at least, not until you've already got some answers
- In retrospect, the proper questions, steps, actions seem so much more clear
- Sometimes, things you think you can "finish" / "solve" quickly end up dragging on and on, never quite finishing, perhaps not even seeming to progress at all
- Other times, you've only just begun something difficult when progress, change, solutions you never would have conceived of pop out in front of you
- There are long, dry periods in which little changes
- This lack of change can be extremely frustrating
- Nothing is ever quite certain; there are always infinite more questions
- The more you learn / find out, the more questions you develop, and the more you perceive the extent of your own ignorance and tininess in the universe
- You're constantly afraid of missing out, being in the "wrong" place at the "wrong" time
- It's always much easier to explain the "what" than the "why" (you can never quite be sure of the why)
- We strike out with ideas in mind of what we are looking for, and do not notice much of what exists that we are not looking for.
- Even if you seem to be "right," do "well" (which is exciting), you still have to dive right back into the same old game (scientific inquiry, life) you've been playing all along
- Others can see / experience the same thing and interpret / respond to it entirely differently
- The unknown is intimidating and, sometimes, threatening; we struggle to know
- Life as continuous repetitions / readjustments of the scientific method of inquiry
- The drive to be right, fear of controversy
- The desire to assign everything we encounter a subjective moral "value judgment," and the struggle against this desire


Name:  Julia Wise
Username:  skychild@mail.com
Subject:  This science thing
Date:  2003-09-03 14:30:58
Message Id:  6314
Comments:
I guess I thought of math/science as a realm apart from me and mine, since most of the people I was around in high school were much more into verbal/social classes than math and science. My thought patterns changed a bit this summer when I spent a lot of time around somebody who's very much into engineering and astrophysics and taught me ways to program solutions to the Traveling Salesman problem for the fun of it. Now it seems more like something you can fall in love with, just like dancing and sociology are for me.

Now, for what I think on the discipline itself - biology is a science, but there are a lot of other things that can be considered sciences in the sense of social sciences. If chemistry is the science of how substances work, and biology is the science how organisms work, then sociology is just as much the science of how people work together, and politics is the science of how governments work. So science is looking at one part of the world and trying to figure out how it works, and the main difference between it and any other study is what area of the world it's looking at.

I'd say that since the course is so big on there not being definitive answers to any question about science, I don't think there are definitive truths about anything. What I see as the truth about religion, say, or the best economic policy for Panama, is going to be different for what other people see as the truth on those subjects. Part of that's based on different values we have, but part is based on observations about how the world works. That's just like science.


Name:  Patty
Username:  ppalermo@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Objectivity
Date:  2003-09-03 14:45:42
Message Id:  6315
Comments:
What interested me most about Nomi Kaim's very thorough list was the statement that "Both strive for (but cannot attain) objectivity." This is so true. Objectivity, along with the new idea that science may not be able to strive for "truth," says alot about the current field of and future for biology. I have always found the sciences and the field of medicine to be particularly interesting because of the power and authority both fields have, and the ability such authority has to change our lives. Science and Medicine (Scientists and Doctors of any kind) are without objectivity. They are without objectiveity when they make their observations, and they are without objectivity when they summarize their observations. They are even without objectivity when they choose WHAT to observe. With such a foundation to the findings of science and medicine, it impresses me that we have been able to do the things we have done. (Put a man on the moon, cloning, cell regeneration, etc.) And yet, it also makes me wonder, what would the world be able to accomplish if it had diffrent goals? As a society, or at least Americans, I know we want to be beautiful, sexy, powerful, and live very long lives. From this we have worked on "summaries of observations" until we were able to provide our people with excellent plastic surgery, liposuction, viagra, the fastest cars technology can provide, the fastest computers, and medicine and tools and treatments to prolong or stabalize our lives until the very last second. However, if society had diffrent values, our science may land us with diffrent conclusions: A way to transport and preserve all types of foods in order to spread them to the millions who die without food everyday. Society may have used science in a way to persuade all people that being generous is the most effective and only way for a species to survive. Instead, science provides us with values such as "Survival of the Fittest." I'm not saying that our society's values are wrong. We have done many great and helpful things. I'm just wondering how much we could accomplish if we had a diffrent objectivity and if we had diffrent values. If there is no one truth, could we have a far better "overall summary of observation" if we payed more attention to the problem of objectivity, and the importance science and medicine have on the world.
Name:  Talia Liben
Username:  cele19@aol.com
Subject:  
Date:  2003-09-03 17:20:54
Message Id:  6320
Comments:
Someome said in class today that she was comforted by the fact that there were no truths in science, just as there are no truths in life. She said that this similarity made her feel better about the world, because it coincided with what she already thought, or knew, of the world.
I thought that this was an interesting point, because many people find comfort in "knowing" the truths of the world, thereby puting to rest the notion that the world is random in its entirety and chaotic by nature.
I was never someone who enjoyed science classes. I found most of them to be pure memorization, and I generally thought that science should be left to those for who m in was natural. However, through me everchanging and unstable adolesence (as I assume most are), I tended to feel better about circumstances (mostly revolving around boys, grades, parental conflicts, etc) "knowing" that there were explainations for these occurances that could be "proven" by psychologists, biologists, neurologists, etc. I'm glad that it wasn't until today (long past awkward stages and puberty) that I find there are actually no truths. Today, not being as frightened by the unstable world, I feel more like the student in class today (I think it was Toiya)who feels that it is conforting that the world is indeed the way she feels it is.
Name:  
Username:  fambrena@yahoo.com
Subject:  random stuff
Date:  2003-09-03 23:22:24
Message Id:  6328
Comments:
As the stereotypical "English" girl, I've been frustrated by the tendency of my professors--both science and English--to insist on truths, or, if not, at least require us to draw our *own* solid conclusion. What I've always liked about the field of English is that everything is open to interpretation. If you view a certain passage one way, it says one thing; if you view it another way, it might give you the completely opposite message. Portraying science in the same grey light makes it seem a lot less hostile. However, my experience with high school professors was often negative in that they *insisted* on there being a "certain" way, even if it wasn't their way (although that was often the case). You could never be wishy-washy or present data as supportive of more than one thesis. You had to choose either black or white.

Life seems, to me, to treat us the same way. Although most people hold beliefs that can't be easily classified into one category, the world often requires that they try to stuff their complex belief systems into a small, simple box. Take politics. In this country, you're either a Democrat or a Republican. Period. End of story. Religion works the same way, although it's a little more deceptive in that it offers you *many* little boxes--Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, etc. Life wants you to know yourself well enough to be absolute in all of your choices. Likewise, high school (and some other) science wants to know...well, *itself* well enough to be absolute in all of its conclusions. It doesn't even need to be *correct*--it just needs to be sure of its own position. It wants to be multiple-choice-test sure, when in reality the only way you can answer almost any question is through an essay (albeit, in some cases, a short one... for example, some guy comes up to you and asks, "Do you like onions?" "Yes," you say, but qualify it: "I like them on sandwiches but not in salads."). Whoops, there I go into English again. But seriously, this is why I've always been more comfortable with essays. They give you the flexibility to be unsure if that's how you really feel. A scientific environment that doesn't make you choose seems a lot fairer than one that does. . . is this making any sense? ...


Name:  abby fritz
Username:  afritz@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  how are science and life similar?
Date:  2003-09-04 14:11:40
Message Id:  6333
Comments:
considering the things we have discussed so far in class: i would say that a strong similarity between life and science is that just as life is full of uncertainty, so is science. in life, we make observations, test those observations, and then determine if those tests bring about results that support our observations. more often than not, these real life tests bring about unexpected results, but we learn from those results. the same is true for science. only unexpected results in a scientific test will force us to continue our inquiries, leading us to, hopefully, a broader understanding of what we are studying.
Name:  Melissa Teicher
Username:  mteicher@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Past Science Experiences
Date:  2003-09-04 18:36:08
Message Id:  6335
Comments:
my past science experiences haven't been terrible, but they have been extremely different from the experience i anticipate on having in this bio class. in middle/high school the courses were very rigid. there was always a right or wrong answer. there were formulas, facts, and memorization involved. i spent many years studying physics in high school, which dealt mainly with mathematics, specifically calculus. but this class seems entirely different. this class seems to be more philosophical, more of a social science way of thinking than anything else. as much as i enjoy the rigid mathematically structure of my past science classes (i am a math major, so that explains it), i am looking forward to expanding my way of thinking in sciences.
Name:  Brianna Twofoot
Username:  btwofoot@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Bio
Date:  2003-09-04 18:43:20
Message Id:  6336
Comments:
"- Aspects of both seem more meaningful to us when we assign them labels"


I found this comment particularly interesting, given some of the events going on on campus. Professor Grobstein mentioned the diversity seminars and forums that will be taking place throughout the semester. Also, tonight I am participating in Q-Forum, and the panelists have chosen to discuss the ways that labels are useless and at times hindering to progression.


After discussing the scientific process/method, I came to understand that, just like life, you cannot necessarily confine science to a box, to rules, or to constants. You have to remember not to label things. For example, during Q-Forum we intend to discuss how ridiculous it seems to view persons as their sexuality. While a persons sexuality is one of their defining qualities, sometimes the most personally important, it is not the only quality an individual has. Similarly, just because a ball will drop due to gravity in a certain environment, that ball will have a different reaction in a different environment.

Hope that is clear enough to draw connections.


Name:  Katherine Ottati
Username:  kottati@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  bio
Date:  2003-09-04 18:54:00
Message Id:  6337
Comments:
Wow. I wasn't in class Wednesday, and I have obviously missed something really interesting. Anyway, here's my 2 cents...

I am not a science person. I have never liked that, as an area of study, science seems to ask you to be able to produce the right answers, and that there is only one right answer in any given situation. But maybe my perception of science is wrong - perhaps my other science classes have tried to make the discipline cut and dry in an attempt to make the material "easier" to digest. I'm looking forward to a class that looks at science in a different way, and hopeful that it will allow me to discover whether I dislike science or just don't science as it has been presented to me in the past.


Name:  Su-Lyn Poon
Username:  spoon@haverford.edu
Subject:  Life != Science, Life > Science
Date:  2003-09-04 23:22:14
Message Id:  6339
Comments:
What really struck me about the points that Nomi made are that they apply so accurately to my experiences and, I would imagine, to those of others. It is this gift of "intuition", of understanding at some level the fundamental experience of being human (which we all have in some capacity), that leads us to a feeling of 'truth', even if it may be more localized than universal, more faith than fact.

But I wonder if our intuition stems from biological traits that we share as human beings. A priori knowledge may be an outdated concept but it seems we must still be biologically predisposed to experience phenomena (and therefore gain knowledge) in certain ways. For example, we can only detect unaided a fraction of all sound frequencies. We perceive a continuum of light waves as a spectrum of colors. We only feel temperature differences, we do not see them.

We have become conscious of this bond, though we may not know its exact origin, and we articulate it through art, music, folklore and mythology, political institutions, and so on. Our reactions to such articulations (say, to different works of art) may be evidence of our predisposition to respond to certain phenomena more strongly than others.

If this is an acceptable point, then it also means that our observations of the world whether for use in life or in science are guided by such 'intuition'. This then reinforces the idea we have already discussed about the practice of science as a summary of observations, not at all a practice independent of, more objective than or above the very practice of life, but perhaps essentially a subset of it.

Unfinished thoughts: So science != life, but rather, Life is more than Science...? But this would seem counter-intuitive, given the ways in which science has expanded life from the way we first experienced it, on the tiniest level (atoms, genes) and the largest (theories of the Universe)... And yet, what is it that has driven such scientific pursuits? Aren't these creative sparks still grounded in our established norms of existence i.e. life?



Julia - I'm a social science major myself so don't take this as a territorial claim by some overzealous natural scientist... The social sciences have achieved nowhere near the same rate of progress that biology and medicine have in the past few decades. While biomedical research has led to numerous cures and vaccines for deadly diseases (that is, solutions to the problems that such research is charged with addressing), the predictive power of social scientists is still incredibly poor we don't know when we'll come out of the economic slump, or when ethnic conflict will erupt, or why political situations unfold the way they do. This is not to say that the problems that the social sciences seek to address are any less important, only that our base of knowledge doesn't yet allow us to tackle such broad questions of human behavior definitively. If biology is only now beginning to make concrete progress with regard to human beings, then you can see that it's a daunting leap from cells and organs into more complex levels of organization. But if the social sciences can inherit such a knowledge base from the natural sciences, then perhaps what the natural sciences can inherit from the social sciences is a little more self-reflexivity, an awareness that science is not immutable a rhetoric that we social scientists have become so adept at invoking, for whatever reasons.
Name:  Maggie Tucker
Username:  mtucker@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  feelings about truth (or the lack thereof)
Date:  2003-09-05 07:53:31
Message Id:  6345
Comments:
Moving on, the prof asked a question in class. It was after our
conclusion that doctors and scientists don't really KNOW anything. That there are no 'truths' and that everything is sort of dependent on other factors. He followed this conclusion with a question: how does that make us feel? I didn't answer in class, but I'd like to here. I really thinkthat I feel good about knowing that. If I believed everything I was told by a scientist or a group of doctors, and acted on whatever it was that they concluded, then my life really wouldn't be my own. I would be controlled by this outside authority. Life habits would have to be changing constantly to the extent that there wouldn't be any 'life habits' at all. I guess I'm just glad to have that control.

I'd also like to add that this class is already very different from any other science course I had in high school...in a good way.


Name:  megan williams
Username:  mswillia@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  a new look at science
Date:  2003-09-05 10:32:36
Message Id:  6346
Comments:
My father is actually a naturalist, and the fact that science never really interested me was always a sore point for him. The only science i enjoyed in school was environmental science, and i think that is because you are working with current issues and real problems in the world.

this bio 103 course excites me, in the way that i am going to be taught science in a whole new way, rather, i am going to be learning science in a whole new way.

our discussion of the scientific method really struck me as a true example of the fact why many people tire of science courses or experiments in general. in school, you are taught that if you cannot "accept" or find true your hypothesis at the end of an experiment, then you have done something wrong. the experiment has gone wrong, a step was missed or done incorrectly. i think that science is just really taking observations and repeatedly changing the way you think or see things.


Name:  Manuela Ceballos
Username:  mceballo@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  
Date:  2003-09-05 10:35:39
Message Id:  6347
Comments:
Well, I guess I had somewhat of a different experience in science classes before this one. Truth was never the objective. It got to be frustrating most of the time. My biology/chemistry teacher would go on endless rants on how the Egyptians must have had atomic bombs... anyway, it was hard to know what to put on the test.
Anyhow, about objectivity in science. Aside from the obvious choices in what to look at, how to interpret it, etc. science is not isolated from politics. Medical reviews are often biased due to economic interests, and science is a powerful political weapon. As pure as statistics claim to be, they can be easily manipulated to suggest a certain result. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not going into conspiracy theories here, I'm simply saying that as with anything else, there are underlying interests that need to be considered when analyzing scientific studies.
Name:  elisabeth py
Username:  epy@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  relationship btw. science and emotions
Date:  2003-09-05 10:41:08
Message Id:  6348
Comments:
Does science understand the individual emotions or likes and dislikes that characterize a person? How come one person may cry when they see a film and another won't ? Why is orange one persons favorite color and blue somebody elses?
Name:  Laura Wolfe
Username:  laurabw1@aol.com
Subject:  A funny thing happened on the way to the forum...
Date:  2003-09-05 12:56:50
Message Id:  6349
Comments:
This is the first time I've been really inspired to "think biology" outside of class. I did enjoy science all through middle school, and part-way through high school. But as another student mentioned, I get frustrated with any teacher who thinks they know the truth and that the only way to succeed in life is to memorize the facts they have given us. I read Discover magazine and watch PBS a lot, and I'm really excited to be able to learn about similar things in a classroom now.

I was thinking more about how children use the scientific method to test the world around them, and this is something I wrote after class on Wednesday:
All questions seem to lead to answers, but they are not the "correct" answers. They are information that comes from testing an environment, testing a person, and making observations of what happens, then trying to explain the observations. When I was young and my mom tried to make me eat eggplant, I would say "If it doesn't taste good, it can't be good for me" and she would say "If you don't eat it, you won't be healthy". The reason her answer was probably more accurate than mine is because she has lived for more years and received more information via observation. My statement was less of an observation and more like wishful thinking - a story not based on observation. The conclusion I reached had no scientific method behind it. I was using science though, in the fact that I was testing my mother to see how to get her to NOT make me eat the eggplant. When I observed that arguing didn't work, I think I resorted to pouting. I was gathering observations on how to make my parents cave in on their descion. Now it seems to me that all interactions lead back to science, in some form.
On another note, I found something interesting on the web:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A10691-2003Jul31¬Found=true

It's an article about the gender gap relating to sexual preferences, but what I found to be interesting was the "researchers say" aspect to it. It seems that each person has their own idea of what the survey meant. (I personally think that men and and women are partially pressured by the mindset of society to answer how they did - I don't think it's necessarily a natural difference, although maybe that's part of it too. But it seems silly to claim that because men reported this, now I know the truth about their natural tendencies.)


Name:  Su-Lyn
Username:  spoon@haverford.edu
Subject:  Inter-disciplinary life...
Date:  2003-09-05 18:22:46
Message Id:  6354
Comments:
"Does science understand the individual emotions or likes and dislikes that characterize a person? How come one person may cry when they see a film and another won't ? Why is orange one persons favorite color and blue somebody elses?" Elisabeth Py

Elisabeth Your questions really got me thinking about where the line between The Natural Sciences and The Social Sciences traditionally lies. Depending on the way they are phrased, I think it's possible to see how territoriality doesn't need to become an issue.
I'm trying to expand on your questions in a way that doesn't assign them to specific fields: they may well be within the jurisdiction of biology, neuroscience, psychology, sociology, or anthropology... The questions doesn't 'belong' to any one category. I'm on a 'consilience' drive right now, an idea that there's an "interlocking of causal explanation across disciplines", which biologist Edward Wilson advocates. So that's my bias.

Science is a summary of observations. So, for that reason, science can't account for every individual difference, apart from blaming it on the concept of variation. But for that same reason, this may not be the case for long. This could also have consequences for Prof. Grobstein's statement that scientists today tend to avoid hypotheses that can't be falsified within a certain time frame. At some point in the future, this limiting time frame will probably change and so will the types of hypotheses admitted into the study of science. A step towards consilience?

"Science is not isolated from politics." Manuela Ceballos

Manuela I agree completely with what you said. Like you, it's not the uncertainty of science that worries me, but the certainty with which it is applied in policies, and similarly the certainty with which it is then accepted by the lay public. It may or may not be a deliberate 'doctoring of accounts', but even a little misguided enthusiasm on the part of politicians can wreak havoc. Eugenics (dictionary.com: " The study of hereditary improvement of the human race by controlled selective breeding") comes to mind.

Name:  Su-Lyn
Username:  spoon@haverford.edu
Subject:  Um... PS?
Date:  2003-09-06 16:36:36
Message Id:  6358
Comments:
Just to tie in my comment on consilience more concretely with what's going on in class... Consider the following expansion on that point as a response to the question about the relationships between the definition of life as the experience of being human, the definition of life as the subject matter of the course, and science.

Our experience of being is constituted by numerous aspects, such as emotion, social organization, ritual, to name just a few. These have fallen under the jurisdiction of different academic disciplines which, at different points in history, have alternatively been considered different camps or necessary parts of a more holistic view of life.

The second definition of life, "the subject matter of the course", would be the view from a biologist's window. It is necessarily limited by the recognition that there are only so many hours in the day... so the biologist, like the psychologist and the anthropologist, asks certain types of questions about certain topics. This understanding of life is a point of view, in that it doesn't capture all the aspects of the experience of living. It is thus a summary of observations, exactly like the more general practice of science.

But the experience of being is also a summary of observations: of those we are capable of making unaided. Scientists and their quest to define life have helped to expand this experience. We were oblivious to genes, viruses and hormones (though not to their effects) before the different branches of science developed. Yet we have also been shown that our experience is not the be all and end all of existence. The concept of evolution drastically changed our views, as have studies that show consciousness is not unique to us, nor the possibility of life to planet Earth.

Science in its current state cannot apply itself to tackling certain questions within our experience of being. Science may be dynamic, but its methods still require that its subject matter be static (i.e. isolated, controlled) if it is to be understood. As the base of knowledge grows, and once the foundation has been laid, the configuration of factors that are considered constant or variable will change, and science can begin to tackle issues that arise at a higher level of organization.

(Um, I'm still not sure I really understand the question, but the fuzziness gives me a little space to wander with my thoughts.)
Name:  Paula Arboleda
Username:  parboled@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Science and Truth
Date:  2003-09-06 23:30:37
Message Id:  6359
Comments:
This past week our discussions have primarily focused on how science does not deal with truths and even further, that there is really no such thing as "truth." I guess what has bothered me the most about this "no truths" business is not so much that it is too philosophical for my taste, but I wonder how truly helpful or practical that is. That is not to say, however, that as human beings, we should not be humbled or frustrated by such a realization, but, my question is what comes next? How do we use this realization to further question and be critical of what we know, don't know, want to know etc..., how does realizing that there are no truths (when people are so readily available to "prove" to you that they know of a few) change/problematize/effect/engage us and challenge what we hold to be true about our current political, economic, and social understanding of society or any given subject.
Name:  Adina Halpern
Username:  ahalpern@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  
Date:  2003-09-06 23:37:55
Message Id:  6360
Comments:
I'm somewhat unconfortable with the idea that science doesn't have all the answers. I understand that knowing everything would make life (as in human life) completely pointless, but for me, thinking that *someone* knows or will some day know what is going on and what life is all about is comforting. Su-Lyn's idea of science as biology, neuroscience, psychology, sociology, and anthropology is helping me to get over this discomfort. Now, instead of thinking that there is one way of "scientific thinking" and that it doesn't work, I am able to think that there are many ways of thinking that *do* work, and it is just *what it is that works* that keeps changing.
Name:  Sarah Kim
Username:  skim@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Eugenics
Date:  2003-09-07 16:50:24
Message Id:  6361
Comments:
"Eugenics (dictionary.com: " The study of hereditary improvement of the human race by controlled selective breeding") comes to mind."

I found this comment to be very interesting, and it reminded me of a discussion I'd had in another class. When you think of the definition of eugenics, a certain group of people comes to mind: Nazis. An interesting fact that you might not be aware of, is that the Nazis actually took the idea of eugenics from US! Before World War II, the United States had a policy that the state could sterilize people WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT if they were deemed unfit (this included conditions such as epilepsy and being "morally deficient"). So thousands of people in the United States were sterilized, sometimes without even being told their fate, by our government because they'd decided that these people should not be allowed to continue polluting our population with their unfit characteristics. The Nazis actually took this concept from us, and expanded upon it, experimenting with the fastest and most efficient ways to sterilize people. Eventually, they resorted to just killing off the "unfit" people. Anyway, in reading the comments, this came to mind, and I thought you all might find it interesting.


Name:  
Username:  rkallon@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Should Science really tell the Truth?
Date:  2003-09-07 22:54:12
Message Id:  6364
Comments:
Last weeks discussions on science and whether it is the truth or not really struck me. It kind of bothers me that all of science is not in fact the truth, but it also enlightens me in another way. I realize that in life in general, we can never know what is truth and what is not. We basically have to just believe and understand that there are reasons why something may be truth to one person and false to another. For instance many may question whether or not there is a God? That question can be very hard for many to answer. For those who are religious, that may be a very easy question to answer. But all in all the I feel the truth is what we make of it and what we believe.
Name:  Charlotte Haimes
Username:  chaimes@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  me and science
Date:  2003-09-07 23:05:24
Message Id:  6366
Comments:
I don't believe that there are "science people" and "non-science people" in this world because then we wouldn't be asking the question "Why?" so often. Every "Why" question brings me back to the same question "Why do we need to know this?" and, ultimately brings me to the bigger question, "Why do we even exist?"
Not knowing why life exists is the most frustrating concept to accept and, yet, the most intriguing because it surpasses every little thing that we consider "important" in our realm. We may obsess over big loads of work and grades, but we don't even know why we're alive. I find this fascinating and I also find it fascinating the ways in which we have created reasons for ourselves to live: receiving a good education, being successful, having a loving family, etc. But how can those things matter and how can we get so caught up in our world when we're ants in the universe and don't even understand who we are? I find this concept very disconcerting...
Name:  Enor Wagner
Username:  enorenor6@aol.com
Subject:  not so science
Date:  2003-09-08 02:14:12
Message Id:  6367
Comments:
From an 'not-very-scientific' English major's point of view: Science is a subject of study that can be seen in two different lights.

On the one hand - science can be taught mechanically, all details stressed as points of interest. The memorization, the gruesome geographical 'anatomy and beyond' maps, the meticulous study of things we cannot actually see like a sodium-potassium pump... While I understand the necessity for learning such things, any sort of interest in them escapes me. As far as I can see it, and if anyone wishes to prove me wrong please do so, these concepts are for 'multiple choice people'. I am not one of them.

I am a paper person. So until I took neurobiology last semester, I had no interest in science whatsoever. Which leads me to the other hand - science can be taught philosophically. The points of interest are instead focused the human position, its place in our culture and world. What a sodium-potassium pump has to do with health, with tommorrow, with mental well being.

We just discussed in class whether a conclusion can ever be true, definitive. Realizing that the answer is 'no' opens a whole new door to science which some students unfortunatly will never be able to walk through. Science can be as analitically inviting as any novel or poem I will read in an English class because it involves opinions, guesses, and presumptions which can never really be confirmed or denied.


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