Man's physical universe

xanabras

22 THE INTELLIGENT SOLUTION OF PROBLEMS

ditions, and (2) experimental observations, i.e., observations made

under controlled conditions.

While a science may be and usually is born out of bare observation,

experience has shown that it develops best when such observational

data are supplemented by experimental data. The possibilities of bare

observation have not been exhausted. Experiments are devised because

our powers of observation are generally so dull or our experiences are so

limited.

Both types of observations must be capable of being repeated by

others. Accuracy, impartiality, and honesty are thus required of truth

seekers.

Generalizations Differ in Reliability.

Data are collected, sorted, arranged, and classified, with the result

that certain regularities or things-in-common become evident.

On the basis of such relationships we arrive at a generalization or

"regularity of nature," i.e., a general statement concerning the behavior

common to a large number of cases. Such generalizations simply

state what we expect will happen under given conditions because it

always has happened under those conditions. When new conditions

are discovered, the law is revised to include them.

No human mind is perfect, and for that reason no generalization can

be considered to be correct even when it is based on well-verified data.

All scientific generalizations are subjected to careful scrutiny by many

workers, and the majority of these generalizations have been found to

be untrue under certain circumstances, i.e., only partially true. Others,

which stand the test of time and experience, are accepted as correct and

are called laws. Most of our scientific laws have been revised repeatedly

as additional information showed that they were inaccurate or inadequate.

Scientific Laws Differ from Civil Laws.

Civil laws may be changed or repealed out of existence. If one does

not choose to be guided by civil laws, it may be possible to violate them

without paying any penalty.

In fact, it is difficult to live today in the

United States without violating many laws on the statute books. Civil

laws require the backing of public opinion and enforcement machinery

to make them effective. "The civil law involves a command and duty;

the scientific law, a description, not a prescription." '

Sometimes a scientific law appears to be violated. For example,

when water runs up a tree, it seems contrary to the law of gravity. But

p. 87.

* Karl Pearson, The Grammar of Science, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 2d ed.,

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines