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EVOLUTION OF SCIENTIFIC METHOD

Debate and discussion of any biological questions not pertaining to a particular topic.

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EVOLUTION OF SCIENTIFIC METHOD

Postby Vladimir Matveev » Thu Mar 31, 2005 7:33 am

Discussion of controversial problems in Cell Physiology

Join Google Group "Cell Physiology and Biophysics" to discuss hidden problems of a theory of the living cell:
http://groups-beta.google.com/group/Cel ... logy/about

Themes for discussion can be found on the following sites:

http://www.bioparadigma.spb.ru/hidden_h ... ewbook.htm
http://www.bioparadigma.spb.ru/revolution/contents.htm
http://www.bioparadigma.spb.ru/reviewonpollack.htm
http://www.bioparadigma.spb.ru/ling.htm
http://www.bioparadigma.spb.ru/pollack.htm
http://www.bioparadigma.spb.ru/edelmann.htm

Public website: http://www.bioparadigma.spb.ru


There is the first therme for discussion in the group:

EVOLUTION OF SCIENTIFIC METHOD

The last 50 years in the history of life sciences are remarkable for a new important feature that looks as a great threat for their future. A profound specialization dominating in quickly developing fields of science causes a crisis of the scientific method. The essence of the method is a unity of two elements, the experimental data and the theory that explains them. To us, "fathers" of science, classically, were (are) the creators of new ideas and theories. They were the true experts of their own theories. It is only they who have the right to say: "I am the theory". In other words, they were carriers of theories, of the theoretical knowledge. The fathers provided the necessary logical integrity to their theories, since theories in biology have not still to be based on strict mathematical proofs. It is not true for sons. As a result of massive specialization, modern experts operate in very confined spaces. They formulate particular rules far from the level of theory. The main theories of science are known to them only at the textbook level. Nowadays, nobody can say: "I am the theory". With whom, then is it possible to discuss today on a broader theoretical level? How can a classical theory - for example, the membrane one - be changed or even disproved under these conditions? How can the "sons" with their narrow education catch sight of membrane theory defects? As a result, "global" theories have few critics and control. Due to specialization, we have lost the ability to work at the experimental level of biology within the correct or appropriate theoretical context. The scientific method in its classic form is now being rapidly eroded.

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FURTHER DETAILS ABOUT THE EVOLUTION

Postby Vladimir Matveev » Mon Apr 11, 2005 4:59 am

FURTHER DETAILS ABOUT THE EVOLUTION
At present it is commonly accepted that the most characteristic feature of the modern science is its marked specialization. Even researchers studying similar cellular structures - for instance, channels - live now in parallel worlds: those who study Na-channels do not see too much sense in communicating with those who study Ca-channels, and even less with those who study channels for organic molecules. Of course, expanding specialization is not merely a sensation or individual observations. We see everywhere objective evidence for degradation of sciences into individual "earldoms" whose autonomous status is constantly being enhanced. The most evident proof in favor for this is a rise of the number of publication co-authors, reaching in some cases up to several hundred names. Also steadily increasing are the numbers of specialized journals and conferences. The mean length of formulations of the essence of discoveries, for which Nobel Prizes are awarded, increases, while the number of "discoveries" decreases and their significance can be correctly evaluated by only an increasingly narrow circle of specialists. A decrease of significance of investigations on the background of a steady rise of the number of publications means that expenditures for science increase, while their true yield decreases. But whereas economic consequences of the specialization are widely discussed, the intellectual menace impending over science still escapes proper attention.

The danger has descended over the Scientific Method itself. Theories of a general biological character were accepted many decades ago, and nowadays, due to the specialization, there are no scientists who master these theories so well as those who could be rightfully considered their bearers. As a result, the profound generalizations of the past have turned out to be outside the natural process of renovation, beyond criticism. If competing theories appear under these conditions, their significance and advantages over classical knowledge will be unable to be properly evaluated, fantastic as this might seem. There has appeared or can appear the situation when scientists mastering the most modern methods of investigations at the molecular level are guided in their work by obsolete or even erroneous concepts of the general character that they inherited from the classicism epoch. The theories of the past, instead of being always under scrutiny, have turned into the dogmas incompatible with the spirit of the scientific method. The extra specialization is a menace, which may lead to the loss of the integrity of scientific knowledge.
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Postby mith » Tue Apr 12, 2005 4:13 am

Jeepers! These are too advanced for me and sorry I don't read Russian :oops:
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Postby cytochromeP » Wed Apr 20, 2005 9:01 am

What I had felt someday is that as the technology advances, new scientific theories are constructed ... built upon previously existing body of knowledge... the contemporary science student will tend to spend more and more amount of time in learning all the previous works rather than do his own creative work or even think of challenging previous works. I guess the pre-mid-20th century scientists were just lucky enough not to be burdened by a plethora of already established theories.
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Postby mith » Wed Apr 20, 2005 8:16 pm

I too have wondered how long it would take to finish education in the future. The age right now is around 24 or so while back in the medieval ages, education was simply grammar school i.e. around 6 years.
Living one day at a time;
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Postby Vladimir Matveev » Fri Dec 30, 2005 8:52 am

This topic is continued in the article:

V.V. Matveev and D.N. Wheatley. "Fathers" and "sons" of theories in cell physiology: the membrane theory. Cell. Mol. Biol., 51: 797-801, 2005.

Find full text here:
http://www.actomyosin.spb.ru/fathersandsons.htm
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