Researchers lose authority.

Why science does not have all the answers - Comment on 2014 March 17

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Science thinks to be the more influential the more it masks methodical doubt. Read more:

I bring extracts from an article I read today:



Why science does not have all the answers

Researchers lose authority but esoteric booms. A conversation with the science manager Peter Strohschneider about the difficult relationship of society, politics and science.

A peculiarity of the German science system is the awarding of about 2.7 billion Euro per year to university researchers through the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) [German Research Community]. This extra support is subject to strict quality control. Since the beginning of 2013 Peter Strohschneider is president of the DFG.

Already as chairman of the Wissenschaftsrat [Science Council] he got to know well the complex inner life of the German research system. In the interview the Munich professor for German language of the Middle Ages explains which challenges science has to face in this country in the years to come.

Does science sufficiently point to their own restrictions and limits?

Peter Strohschneider: Science is there in a dilemma. It is expected of it that it says what actually the case is and what one should therefore do. And this expectation it can only fulfil by denying the modalities of its own knowledge. It produces methodically reliable knowledge but no final truths. Scientific knowledge rather distinguishes itself through a principally methodical doubt.

Science operates fundamentally under the premise that we ourselves later or others already now could know it better. The more society pushes for answers the more difficult it becomes to communicate this methodical doubt. And the other way round: In fact science thinks to be the more influential the more it masks this methodical doubt.

Which role do the media play in this?

Peter Strohschneider: The science system distinguishes itself through expansion, differentiation, acceleration and also through ordinarisation. To picture this medially is a very important, but of course not easy task. It is of course made more difficult that the attention economy of the media increasingly follows a logic of personalizing, dramatizing and scandalizing. Not least also the forces of the media system itself become clear about it.

Are men more inclined to superstition?

Peter Strohschneider: The esoteric shelves in the book shops are definitely becoming longer and longer. Men are searching for meaning creation and instructions to lifestyle. In our world one hardly finds them without science but also not with it alone. By the way it becomes a more and more massive challenge for sciences to convincingly draw the border to non-science or also to pseudo-science. This question belongs to those, which interest me most. And I must admit it is open.


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