Being A Good Biologist Essay, Research Paper
When we think about defining a good biologist, the origin of what is considered in culturally common thought of as good science and our definition of what defines a biologist will differ. A biologist can be often described as a scientist who studies living organisms and their relationship to their environment. When looking at being a good biologist, the gathering and evaluation of evidence is essential to the definition of a good scientist must posses. Whether or not one chooses to challenge the concept of evolution, a general acceptance of the scientific community, does not deny the possibility of being a good biologist.
Some would consider the statement Evolution is only a theory, it hasn t been proved as fact. On the contrary, the lack of proof isn’t a weakness and claiming infallibility for one’s conclusions is a sign of hubris (Worf, Benjamin. 1940. Science & Linguistics). In this world, nothing has ever been rigorously proved. Often a scientist findings proposes an idea that may attack all cherished philosophical doctrines of what we know about science. Albert Einstien, popular among young scientists, was certainly not taken seriously as a good physicist until the old scientist who rejected his theories had died (Sakimura, Jean. 1998. MCB41X Discussion). To Prove by using mathematical sense, is possible only if you have the luxury of defining the universe you operate in. A scientist should be able to evaluate, using a common definition, the fact based upon empirical evidence. The more and better evidence will certainly build a case to eventually assign a fact to it. Even then, we cannot be absolutely be 100% certain about this (Strahler, Arthur. 1987. Science and Earth History). For all the theories on Evolution proven to 99.999% certainty, it is certainly possible to still be a good biologist and not believe in evolution.
The variable in our definitions for a good biologist are often shaped by first hand personal knowledge and our basic foundation of understanding truths taught from what is known as fact. To the honest scientist, like the philosopher, will tell you that nothing whatever can be or has been proved with fully 100% certainty, not even that you or I exist, nor anyone except himself, since he might be dreaming the whole thing (Freeling. 1998. Lecture). Thus there exist no sharp line between speculation, hypothesis, theory, principle, and fact, but only a difference along a sliding scale, in the degree of probability of the idea. But in science, “theory” means “a statement of what are held to be the general laws, principles, or causes of something known or observed”, as the Oxford English Dictionary defines it (Futuyama, Douglas. p. 15, Biology 5th Ed. 1989 Worth Publishers). When we say a thing is a fact, then, we only mean that its probability is an extremely high one: so high that we are not bothered by doubt about it. A good biologist should be able to recognize the possibility of flaws in his original thinking and the possibility of fact not being the absolute truth.
Defying the concept of irrefutably true fact occurs frequently through the process of good science. Science is a questioning process. A good scientist should always question his/her beliefs (Freeling. 1998. Lecture). When Kepler questioned the role of the Earth as the center of the universe, his theories were attacked and persecuted by the religious community. The religious community disbelieved that Earth was not the center of the universe when all their known facts had led them to believe it was true. Kepler could not directly prove his own theories but was lead to accept what was known as common fact or irrefutably true. Challenges on what is the basis for a good scientist often brings controversial ideas. On Evolution, Charles Darwin introduced a rather controversial theory or idea whose idea didn t fit the common scientific model of truth. The idea that life on Earth has evolved was widely discussed in Europe in the late 1700’s and the early part of the last century. In 1859 Charles Darwin supplied a mechanism, namely natural selection, that could explain how evolution occurs. Darwin’s theory of natural selection helped to convince most people that life has evolved and this point has not been seriously challenged in the past one hundred and thirty years. A good scientist should not avoid the possibility of fallacy in Darwin s theories.
A good scientist should know what it takes to distinguish from bias and prove, if not for oneself, to others that the evidence to existing knowledge is fact. Often it takes a revolutionary theory or concept many years to eventually be accepted as truth as many good scientists are dissecting the theories and evaluating them. Often it takes this theory or idea of thought to always persist against the grain of common belief, which doesn t often fit the scientific community model of truth, but often becomes highly persuasive argument whether or not we have a theory of how it will occur. Proof is just an acceptance process of what a good scientist would have questioned.
Consider this, about a century ago many scientists were then mostly creationists, looked at the world to figure out how God did things (Issak, Mark. 1995-97. Five Major Misconceptions about Evolution.), many of these same creationists concluded an old earth and species originated by evolution. Since then, with newer more sophisticated technology (i.e. carbon dating, microscopes, DNA) we have been able to discover more about our science. Imagine if Kepler had a spacecraft, what revolutionary awe would he have thrilled the church. Today, many of these biological scientists have excellent understandings of the laws of thermodynamics, how fossil finds are interpreted, etc., and finding a better alternative to evolution would win them fame and fortune. Even if they are still holding back because they lack certainty in other scientist findings their work has changed our understanding of significant details of how evolution operates. Nothing in the real world has ever been rigorously proved, or ever will be. Proof, in the mathematical sense, is possible only if you have the luxury of defining the universe you’re operating in. In the real world, we must deal with levels of certainty based on observed evidence. The more and better evidence we have for something, the more certainty we assign to it; when there is enough evidence, we label the something a fact, even though it still isn’t 100% certain. It is certainly possible to still be a good biologist and not believe in evolution.