Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How Rigorous Are Anthropology and Physics? Hard to Know

What makes a doctrine or field "scientific"?
Writing in Scientific American, John Horgan observes:
"Two recent science stories, one in anthropology and the other in physics, have me wondering which field is "hard" and which "soft.""
The logic:
1) The American Anthropological Association drops "science" from mission statement, whereupon some members protested.
2) In the meantime, physics, once that "hardest" of disciplines, whose mathematical foundations have since Newton defined what it means to be "scientific," becomes ever more speculative, venturing "beyond the bounds of measurable reality," as evidenced by the recent debate over colliding black holes as the source of the cosmic background radiation.
Much food for thought in a brief piece.
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