Introduction: Can Science Alone Uncover the Truth? (01:06)
Xynteo Chief Scientist Gabrielle Walker introduces the topic and references a paper finding that 90% of certain cancer research is not reproducible.
Kenneth Cukier: The Pitch (04:43)
Data expert Cukier states that the scientific method changes itself, and we cannot determine whether something is true. Pharmaceutical companies failed to reproduce landmark studies. Big data increases false correlations; he calls for third party institutions allowing researchers to share data. Algorithms have too many variables to verify scientifically.
Steve Fuller: The Pitch (04:33)
Philosopher of science Fuller argues that scientific theories are most likely to be wrong, not data. The idea of pessimistic meta-induction predicts that major unifying theories will have changed in 100 years. Accumulated empirical knowledge will remain, such as physics associated with engineering.
Lawrence Krauss: The Pitch (05:55)
Cosmologist and physics professor Krauss argues that irreproducible results are due to fraudulent or poorly framed studies. Scientific theories can never be proven absolutely true, and published articles should be regarded with skepticism. Theories will not be wrong in the future, just used to explain more specific phenomena.
Theme One: Does Science Uncover the Truth? (08:51)
Cukier argues that statistics used have greater error margins than disciplines admit; he and Fuller agree the peer review process should ensure legitimate findings. Krauss says scientists work to prove one another wrong. The system assumes researcher honesty but some disciplines encourage fraud.
Theme Two: Is Scientific Method Limited? (09:43)
Fuller says incentives to find fraud have only recently emerged. Krauss argues that historic research errors do not matter, if claims are true. Cukier uses cot death to show how scientific knowledge can reverse within a generation; Krauss sees it as advancing incrementally and argues that old theories still apply. The scientific method should address human flaws.
Theme Three: Should We Look Elsewhere for Our Truths? (04:31)
Krauss compares science to democracy as the best, albeit flawed system. Cukier says there are problems in the scientific method; claims are always potentially false. Fuller argues that science is a component of all forms of knowledge, but should not be taken as absolute authority.
Credits: Everything We Know Is Wrong: Can Science Alone Uncover the Truth? (00:06)
Credits: Everything We Know Is Wrong: Can Science Alone Uncover the Truth?
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