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the amount of knowledge, which creates more jobs, attracts more people, and so on. The membership growth curves for the American Mathematical Society (founded in 1888) and the Mathematical Association of America (founded in 1915), which are shown in figure 2, dramatically demonstrate this phenomenon. In 1965, observing the accelerating rate at which individuals were entering the sciences, the junior minister of science and education of Great Britain concluded, "For more than 200 years scientists everywhere were a significant minority of the population. In Britain today they outnumber the clergy and the officers of the armed forces. If the rate of progress which has been maintained ever since the time of Sir Isaac Newton were to continue for another 200 years, every man, woman and child on Earth would be a scientist, and so would every horse, cow, dog, and mule" (in Hardison 1988, p. 14).

Transportation speed has also shown geometric progression, with most of the change being made in the last 1 percent of human history. French historian Fernand Braudel tells us, for example, that "Napoleon moved no faster than Julius Caesar" (1981, p. 429). But in the twentieth century the speed of transportation has increased astronomically (figuratively and literally), as the following list shows:

1784 Stagecoach 10 mph

1825 Steam locomotive 13 mph

1870 Bicycle 17 mph

1880 Steam-powered train 100 mph

1906 Steam-powered automobile 127 mph

1919 Early aircraft 164 mph

1938 Airplane 400 mph

1945 Combat airplane 606 mph

1947 Bell X-l rocket-plane 769 mph

1960 Rocket 4,000 mph

1985 Space shuttle 18,000 mph

2000 TAU deep-space probe 225,000 mph

One final example of technological change based on scientific research will serve to drive the point home. Timing devices in various forms—dials, watches, and clocks—have improved exponentially in accuracy, as illustrated in figure 3.

If we are living in the Age of Science, then why do so many pseudo-scientific and nonscientific beliefs abound? Religions, myths, superstitions, mysticisms, cults, New Age ideas, and nonsense of all sorts have penetrated every nook and cranny of both popular and high culture. A 1990 Gallup poll of 1,236 adult Americans showed percentages of belief in the paranormal that are alarming (Gallup and Newport 1991, pp. 137-146).

Astrology 52%

Extrasensory perception 46%

Witches 19%

Aliens have landed on Earth 22%

The lost continent of Atlantis 33%

Dinosaurs and humans lived simultaneously 41 %

Noah's flood 65%

Communication with the dead 42%

Ghosts 35%

Actually had a psychic experience 67%

Other popular ideas of our time that have little to no scientific support include dowsing, the Bermuda Triangle, poltergeists, biorhythms, cre-ationism, levitation, psychokinesis, astrology, ghosts, psychic detectives, UFOs, remote viewing, Kirlian auras, emotions in plants, life after death, monsters, graphology, crypto-zoology, clairvoyance, mediums, pyramid power, faith healing, Big Foot, psychic prospecting, haunted houses, perpetual motion machines, antigravity locations, and, amusingly, astrological birth control. Belief in these phenomena is not limited to a quirky handful on the lunatic fringe. It is more pervasive than most of us like to think, and this is curious considering how far science has come since the Middle Ages. Shouldn't we know by now that ghosts cannot exist unless the laws of science are faulty or incomplete?

Figure 2:

Growth in membership of {solid line) the American Mathematical Society and its predecessor, the New York Mathematical Society, founded 1888; and {dashed line) the Mathematical Association of America, founded 1915. [Courtesy Mathematical Association of America.]

Figure 2:

Growth in membership of {solid line) the American Mathematical Society and its predecessor, the New York Mathematical Society, founded 1888; and {dashed line) the Mathematical Association of America, founded 1915. [Courtesy Mathematical Association of America.]

Figure 3:

Accuracy of timing devices, 1300-present.

1300 1400 1soo 1600 1700 1800 1900 2000 Year

Figure 3:

Accuracy of timing devices, 1300-present.

Pirsig's Paradox

There is a priceless dialogue between father and son in Robert Pirsig's classic 1974 intellectual adventure story, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, that takes place during a cross-country motorcycle tour that included many late-night discussions. The father tells his son that he does not believe in ghosts because "they are unscientific. They contain no matter and have no energy and therefore according to the laws of science, do not exist except in people's minds. Of course, the laws of science contain no matter and have no energy either and therefore do not exist except in people's minds. It's best to refuse to believe in either ghosts or the laws of science." The son, now confused, wonders if his father has wandered off into nihilism (1974, pp. 38-39):

"So you don't believe in ghosts or science?"

"No, I do believe in ghosts." "What?"

"The laws of physics and logic, the number system, the principle of algebraic substitution. These are ghosts. We just believe in them so thoroughly they seem real. For example, it seems completely natural to presume that gravitation and the law of gravity existed before Isaac Newton. It would sound nutty to think that until the seventeenth century there was no gravity."

"Of course."

"So, before the beginning of the Earth, before people, etc., the law of gravity existed. Sitting there, having no mass of its own, no energy, and not existing in anyone's mind."

"Right."

"Then what has a thing to do to be nonexistent? It has just passed every test of nonexistence there is. You cannot think of a single attribute of nonexistence that the law of gravity didn't have, or a single scientific attribute of existence it did have. I predict that if you think about it long enough, you will go round and round until you realize that the law of gravity did not exist before Isaac Newton. So the law of gravity exists nowhere except in people's heads. It is a ghost!"

This is what I call Pirsig 's Paradox. One of the knottier problems for historians and philosophers of science over the past three decades has been resolving the tension between the view of science as a progressive, culturally independent, objective quest for Truth and the view of science as a nonprogressive, socially constructed, subjective creation of knowledge. Philosophers of science label these two approaches internalist and externalist, respectively. The internalist focuses on the internal workings of science independent of its larger cultural context: the development of ideas, hypotheses, theories, and laws, and the internal logic within and between them. The Belgian-American George Sarton, one of the founders of the history of science field, launched the internalist view. Sarton's discussion of the internalist approach may be summarized as follows:

1. The study of the history of science is only justified by its relevance to present and future science. Therefore, historians must understand present science in order to see how past science has shaped its development.

2. Science is "systematized positive knowledge," and "the acquisition and systematization of positive knowledge are the only human activities which are truly cumulative and progressive" (Sarton 1936, p. 5). Therefore, the historian should consider each historical step in terms of progressive or regressive effects.

3. Although science is embedded in culture, it is not influenced by culture to any significant degree. Thus, the historian need not worry about external context and should concentrate on the internal workings of science.

4. Science, because it is positive, cumulative, and progressive, is the most important contribution to the history of humanity. Therefore, it is the most important thing a historian can study. Doing so will help prevent wars and build bridges between peoples and cultures.

By contrast, the externalist concentrates on placing science within the larger cultural context of religion, politics, economics, and ideologies and considers the effect these have on the development of scientific ideas, hypotheses, theories, and laws. Philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn began the externalist tradition in 1962, with the publication of his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In this book, he introduced the concepts of scientific paradigms and paradigm shifts. Reflecting upon the internalist tradition, Kuhn concluded, "Historians of science owe the late George Sarton an immense debt for his role in establishing their profession, but the image of their specialty which he propagated continues to do much harm even though it has long since been rejected" (1977, p. 148).

Science historian Richard Olson, who switched from physics to the history of science, strikes a balance between these positions. Olson opens his 1991 book, Science Deified and Science Defied, with a quotation from psychologist B. F. Skinner that succinctly states the internalist position: "No theory changes what it's a theory about." Olson goes on to reject such strict internalism: "There is a serious question about whether such a statement can be interpreted in a way that could be true even if the objects of the theory were inanimate; but there is no question that it is false when it is applied to humans and other living organisms." A more balanced position, says Olson, is seeing science as both product and producer of culture: "In many ways science has merely justified the successive substitutions of more modern myths for obsolete ones as the basis for our understanding of the world. Scientific theory itself arises only out of and under the influence of its social and intellectual milieu; that is, it is a product as well as a determinant of culture" (p. 3). Such a balance is required because strict internalism is impossible but if all knowledge is socially constructed and a product of culture, the externalist position is subject to itself and must then collapse. The belief that all knowledge is culturally determined and therefore lacks certainty is largely the product of an uncertain cultural milieu.

Extreme externalism (sometimes called strong relativism) cannot be right. Yet those of us trained by Olson's generation of historians (Olson was one of my thesis advisers) know all too well that social phenomena and cultural traditions do influence theories, which, in turn, determine how facts are interpreted; the facts then reinforce theories, and round and round we go until, for some reason, a paradigm shifts. Yet if culture determines sci ence—if ghosts and the laws of nature exist nowhere but in people's minds— then is science no better than pseudoscience? Is there no difference between ghosts and the laws of science?

We can get out of this circle of questions by recognizing this about science: despite being influenced by culture, science can be considered cumulative and progressive when these terms are used in a precise and nonjudg-mental way. Scientific progress is the cumulative growth of a system of knowledge over time, in which useful features are retained and nonuseful features are abandoned, based on the rejection or confirmation of testable knowledge. By this definition, science (and technology by extension) are the only cultural traditions that are progressive, not in any moralistic or hierarchical way but in an actual and definable manner. Whether it is deified or defied, science is progressive in this cumulative sense. This is what sets science apart from all other traditions, especially pseudoscience.

Resolution of the internalist-externalist problem—Pirsig's Paradox— follows from semantic precision and study of historical examples. One example will serve to illustrate the fascinating connections between science and politics. Most political theoreticians regard Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan (1651) as one of the most important political tracts of the modern age. Most do not realize, however, how much Hobbes' politics built upon the scientific ideas of his time. Hobbes, in fact, fancied himself as the Galileo Galilei and William Harvey of the science of society. The dedicatory letter to his De Corpore Politico (1644) has to be one of the most immodest statements in the history of science: "Galileus . . . was the first that opened to us the gate of natural philosophy universal, which is the knowledge of the nature of motion. ... The science of man's body, the most profitable part of natural science, was first discovered with admirable sagacity by our countryman, Doctor Harvey. Natural philosophy is therefore but young; but civil philosophy is yet much younger, as being no older . .. than my own de Cive"(1839-1845, vol. 1, pp. vii-ix).

Hobbes' introduction to scientific thinking came at the age of forty, when he happened upon a copy of Euclid's Elements at a friend's home and turned to a theorem he could not understand until he examined the preceding definitions and postulates. In one of those flashes of insight so important in the annals of science, Hobbes began to apply geometrical logic to social theory. Just as Euclid built a science of geometry, Hobbes would build a science of society, beginning with the first principle that the universe is composed of material matter in motion. His second principle was that all life depends on "vital motion," just as, in Hobbes' words, "the motion of the blood, perpetually circulating (as hath been shown from inany infallible signs and marks by Dr. Harvey, the first observer to it) in the veins and arteries" (1839-1845, vol. 4, p. 407). Through the senses, the brain detects the mechanical motion of objects in the environment. Since all simple ideas come from these basic sense movements, complex ideas must come from combinations of simple ideas. Thus, all thought is a type of motion in the brain called memories. As the motion fades, the memory fades.

Humans are also in motion, driven by passions—appetites (pleasure) and aversions (pain)—to maintain the vital motion of life itself. To gain pleasure and avoid pain, one needs power. In the state of nature everyone is free to exert power over others in order to gain greater pleasure. This Hobbes calls the right of nature. Unequal passions among individuals living in nature lead to a state of "war of all against all." In the most famous passage in political theory, Hobbes imagines life without government and the state: "In such condition there is no place for industry because the fruit thereof is uncertain ... no account of time, no arts, no letters, no society, and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" ([1651] 1968, p. 76). Fortunately, Hobbes argues, humans have reason and can alter the right of nature in favor of the law of nature, out of which comes the social contract. The contract calls for individuals to surrender all rights (except self-defense) to the sovereign who, like the biblical Leviathan, is responsible only to God. Compared to a war of all against all, a sovereign presiding over the state is far superior and forms the basis for a rational society in which peace and prosperity are available on a mass scale.

I have oversimplified the steps in Hobbes' complex theory, but the point is that his reasoning was Euclidean and his system mechanical. He began with metaphysical first principles and ended with an entire social structure. Moreover, because many political theorists consider Hobbes the most influential thinker of the modern age, the connection Hobbes made between politics and science is not dead yet. Science and culture are interactive, not separate and independent, despite attempts by scientists to keep them separate. One of the founders of modern science, Isaac Newton, in the third edition (1726) of his great work, the Principia, claimed, "Hitherto I have not been able to discover the cause of properties of gravity from phenomena, and I feign no hypothesis; and hypotheses, whether metaphysical or physical, whether of occult qualities or mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy" ([1729] 1962, vol. 2, p. 547). Yet Olson has demonstrated just how often Newton did feign hypotheses, "such as the conjecture that light is globular and resembles tennis balls, which is clearly presented in the first optics paper" (1991, p. 98). Moreover, says Olson, even with regard to the law of gravity—Newton's greatest achievement—he feigned hypotheses: "It is undeniable that he did speculate about the cause of gravity—not only privately, but also in print. It has even been argued very convincingly that, so far as the study of experimental natural philosophy in the eighteenth century is concerned, Newton's conjectures and hypotheses ... were more important than the antihypothetical tradition of the Principia" (1991, p. 99). What could be more occult and metaphysical, in fact, than the "action at a distance" gravity produces. What is gravity? It is the tendency for objects to be attracted to one another. Why are objects attracted to one another? Because of gravity. In addition to being tautological, this explanation sounds rather ghostly, which brings us to the resolution of Pirsig's Paradox.

Do ghosts exist? Do scientific laws exist? Is there no difference between ghosts and scientific laws? Of course there is, and most scientists believe in scientific laws but not ghosts. Why? Because a scientific law is a description of a regularly repeating action that is open to rejection or confirmation. A scientific law describes some action in nature that can be tested. The description is in the mind. The repeating action is in nature. The test confirms or rejects it as a law. The law of gravity, for example, describes the repeating attraction between objects, and it has been tested over and over against external reality, and thus it has been confirmed. Ghosts have never been successfully tested against external reality (I do not count blurry photographs with smudges on them that can be explained and replicated by lens distortions or light aberrations). The law of gravity can be considered factual, meaning that it has been confirmed to such an extent that it would be reasonable to offer temporary agreement. Ghosts can be considered nonfactual because they have never been confirmed to any extent. Finally, although the law of gravity did not exist before Newton, gravity did. Ghosts never exist apart from their description by believers. The difference between ghosts and scientific laws is significant and real. Pirsig's Paradox is resolved: all description is in the mind, but scientific laws describe repeating natural phenomena while pseudoscientfic claims are idiosyncratic.

Pseudoscience and Pseudohistory

Okay, so ghosts are bunk, along with most claims that fall under the heading of pseudoscience, by which I mean claims presented so that they appear scientific even though they lack supporting evidence and plausibility. The search for extraterrestrial life is not pseudoscience because it is plausible, even though the evidence for it thus far is nonexistent (the SETI—Search for

Extraterrestrial Intelligence—program looks for extraterrestrial radio signals). Alien abduction claims, however, are pseudoscience. Not only is physical evidence lacking but it is highly implausible that aliens are beaming thousands of people into spaceships hovering above the Earth without anyone detecting the spacecrafts or reporting the people missing.

But what about historical events? How do we know they happened since they do not repeat, either in nature or in the laboratory? As we shall see in chapters 13 and 14, there is a significant difference between history and pseudohistory. Most people would argue that history is not a science. Yet they would agree that Holocaust deniers and extreme Afrocentrists are doing something different from what historians are doing. What is that difference? In chapter 1, I emphasized that external validation through observation and testing is one of the key characteristics of science. We are told by believers in alien abductions that there is no way to test their claims because the experience was, in a way, a historical event, and we were not there to observe for ourselves. Further, the abduction experience itself is often a memory reconstructed through "regression hypnosis," which makes external validation even more difficult.

Yet historical events can be tested. External validation is possible. For example, classicist Mary Lefkowitz has written a thoughtful reply to Afrocentric claims that Western civilization, philosophy, science, art, literature, and so on came out of Africa, not Greece and Rome. Her book, Not Out of Africa, raised storms across America, and she was accused of being everything from racist to politically incorrect. Lefkowitz wrote her book after attending a lecture given in February 1993 at Wellesley College (where she teaches) by Dr. Yosef A. A. ben-Jochannan, a noted extreme Afrocentrist. Among the outrageous statements made in the lecture was the claim that Aristotle stole the ideas that became the foundation of Western philosophy from the library of Alexandria, where Black Africans had deposited their philosophical works. During the question-and-answer session, Lefkowitz asked ben-Jochannan how this could be since the library was built after Aristotle was dead. The response was enlightening:

Dr. ben-Jochannan was unable to answer the question, and said that he resented the tone of the inquiry. Several students came up to me after the lecture and accused me of racism, suggesting that I had been brainwashed by white historians

... As if that were not disturbing enough in itself, there was also the strange silence on the part of many of my faculty colleagues. Several of them were well aware that what Dr. ben-Jochannan was saying was factually wrong. One of them said later that she found the lecture so "hopeless" that she decided to say nothing When I went to the then dean of the college to explain that there was no factual evidence behind some Afrocentric claims about ancient history, she replied that each of us had a different but equally valid view of history

... When I stated at a faculty meeting that Aristotle could not have stolen his philosophy from the library of Alexandria in Egypt, because that library had not been built until after his death, another colleague responded, "I don't care who stole what from whom." (1996, pp. 2, 3, 4)

Therein lies the problem. Each of us may have a different view of history, but they are not all equally valid. Some are historical, and some are pseudohistorical, namely, without supporting evidence and plausibility and presented primarily for political or ideological purposes.

A variety of sources independently attest to the life span of Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.) and to the earliest date for the library of Alexandria (after 323 B.C.E.). It is a fact that Aristotle died before the library of Alexandria was built. One would have to posit a massive and widespread campaign of denial and fabrication to change this fact, which is exactly what extreme Afrocentrists do. True, humans are capable of almost anything and historical inferences have been wrong. Nonetheless, as Lefkowitz points out, "There is no reason why claims of conspiracy should be credited, if no real evidence can be produced to support it" (p. 8). Which brings us to another important point: pseudohistorians and historians do not treat their audiences equally and they use data differently. If Dr. ben-Jochannan wanted to argue that Aristotle was influenced by or acquainted with certain ideas circulating between Greece and Africa, he could examine the evidence for and against such a theory. Indeed, Lefkowitz does just that. But Dr. benJochannan is not as interested in historical facts as he is in historical flavoring, not as interested in teaching the nuances of historiography as he is in instilling an Afrocentrist agenda. He takes a valid point about the influence of ideology on knowledge, stirs in the ignorance or apathy of an audience about historical events, adds a few historical facts and series of eccentric inferences about the past, and makes pseudohistory.

The historical sciences are rooted in the rich array of data from the past that, while nonreplicable, are nevertheless valid as sources of information for piecing together specific events and confirming general hypotheses. The inability to actually observe past events or set up controlled experiments is no obstacle to a sound science of paleontology or geology, so why should it be for a sound science of human history? The key is the ability to test one's hypothesis. Based on data from the past the historian tentatively constructs a hypothesis, then checks it against "new" data uncovered from the historical source.

Here is an example of this. I once had the opportunity to dig up a dinosaur with Jack Horner, curator of paleontology at the Museum of the

Rockies in Bozeman, Montana. In Digging Dinosaurs, Homer reflected on the historical process in describing the two phases of the famous dig in which he exposed the first dinosaur eggs found in North America. The initial stage was "getting the fossils out of the ground; the second was to look at the fossils, study them, make hypotheses based on what we saw and try to prove or disprove them" (Horner and Gorman 1988, p. 168). The first phase of unsheathing the bones from the surrounding stone is backbreak-ing work. As you move from jack hammers and pickaxes to dental tools and small brushes, however, the historical interpretation accelerates as a function of the rate of bone unearthed, as does one's enthusiasm to keep digging. "Paleontology is not an experimental science; it's an historical science," Horner explained. "This means that paleontologists are seldom able to test their hypotheses by laboratory experiments, but they can still test them" (p. 168). How?

In 1981 Horner discovered a site in Montana that contained approximately thirty million fossil fragments of Maiasaur bones, from which he concluded "at a conservative estimate, we had discovered the tomb of ten thousand dinosaurs" (p. 128). Horner and his team did not dig up thirty million fossil fragments. Rather, they extrapolated from selected exposed areas how many bones there were in the 1.25 by 0.25 mile bed. The hypothesizing began with a question: "What could such a deposit represent?" (p. 129). There was no evidence that predators had chewed the bones, yet many were broken in half, lengthwise. Further, the bones were all arranged from east to west—the long dimension of the bone deposit. Small bones had been separated from bigger bones, and there were no bones of baby Maiasaurs, just those of Maiasaurs between nine and twenty-three feet long. The find revealed more questions than answers. What would cause the bones to splinter lengthwise? Why would the small bones be separated from the big bones? Was this one giant herd, all killed at the same time, or was it a dying ground over many years?

An early hypothesis that a mudflow buried the herd alive was rejected as "it didn't make sense that even the most powerful flow of mud could break bones lengthwise ... nor did it make sense that a herd of living animals buried in mud would end up with all their skeletons disarticulated." Applying the hypothetico-deductive method, Horner formulated a second hypothesis: "It seemed that there had to be a twofold event, the dinosaurs dying in one incident and the bones being swept away in another." Since there was a layer of volcanic ash a foot and a half above the bone bed, volcanic activity was implicated in the death of the herd. Deduction: because the fossil bones split only lengthwise, the damage to the bones came long after the event that caused death, which might have been a volcanic erup tion, especially since volcanoes "were a dime a dozen in the Rockies back in the late Cretaceous." Conclusion: "A herd ofMaiasaura were killed by the gases, smoke and ash of a volcanic eruption. And if a huge eruption killed them all at once, then it might have also killed everything else around," including scavengers or predators. Then perhaps there was a flood, maybe from a breached lake, that carried the rotting bodies downstream, separated the big bones from the small bones (which are lighter), and gave them a uniform orientation. "Finally the ash, being light, would have risen to the top in this slurry, as it settled, just as the bones sank to the bottom." What about the baby Maiasaurs? "Perhaps the babies of that year were still in the egg or in nests when the volcano erupted, or perhaps nesting had not even begun." But what about babies from the previous season who would now be juveniles? Horner admits "that nobody knows for sure that these dinosaurs would have produced young each year" (pp. 129-133).

Even in the first stage of a dig while fossils are being released from their rocky shroud, the hypothetico-deductive method is constantly applied. When I arrived at Horner's camp, I expected to find the busy director of a fully sponsored dig barking out orders to his staff. I was surprised to come upon a patient historical scientist sitting cross-legged before a cervical vertebra from a 140-million-year-old Apatosaurus and wondering just what to make of it. Soon a reporter from a local paper arrived (apparently a common occurrence as no one took notice) and inquired of Horner what this discovery meant for the history of dinosaurs. Did it change any of his theories? Where was the head? Was there more than one body at this site? And so on. Horner's answers were consistent with those of the cautious scientist: "I don't know yet." "Beats me." "We need more evidence." "We'll have to wait and see."

This was historical science at its best. For example, after two long days of exposing nothing but solid rock and my own ineptness at seeing bone within stone, one of the preparators pointed out that the rock I was about to toss was a piece of bone that appeared to be part of a rib. if it was a rib, then the bone should retain its rib-like shape as more of the overburden was chipped away. This it did for about a foot, until it suddenly flared to the right. Was it a rib or something else? Jack moved in to check. "It could be part of the pelvis," he suggested, if it was part of the pelvis, then it should also flare out to the left when more was uncovered. Sure enough, Jack's prediction was verified by further empirical evidence. And so it went day after day. The whole dig depends on such hypothetico-deductive reasoning. In a sense, historical science becomes experimental when predictions based on initial evidence are verified or rejected by later evidence. The digging up of history, whether bones or letters, is the experimental procedure of the historical scientist interested in putting a hypothesis to the test.

I should note that there are differences between paleontological evidence and human historical evidence. The former is mostly first-order evidence—strictly physical, natural, and interpreted by extrapolating how natural laws apply now and in the past. The latter typically is second-order evidence—documents written by highly selective humans who add, delete, and alter the evidence. Historians have learned to treat historical evidence differently from archeological or paleontological evidence, to acknowledge that the gaps in historical evidence often have something to do with the fact that humans write about what interests them and what they think is important at the time. Nature does not delete the record of the socially marginalized. Still, as historian of science Frank Sulloway has shown in his controversial 1996 book, Born to Rebel, historical hypotheses can be tested (see chapter 16 for discussion of Sulloway's model). For the past hundred years, for example, historians have hypothesized that social class and social class conflict have been the driving forces behind revolutions, both political and scientific. Sulloway has tested this Marxian hypothesis by coding thousands of individuals in dozens of revolutions for their social class and then doing statistical analyses to see whether there really are significant differences in social class on opposing sides in revolutions. It turns out there is not. Marx was wrong, but it took a historian trained in the sciences to discover this fact by running a simple historical experiment.

How Science Changes

Science is different from pseudoscience, and history is different from pseudohistory, not only in evidence and plausibility but in how they change. Science and history are cumulative and progressive in that they continue to improve and refine knowledge of our world and our past based on new observations and interpretations. Pseudohistory and pseudoscience, if they change at all, change primarily for personal, political, or ideological reasons. But how do science and history change?

One of the most useful theories of how science changes is Thomas Kuhn's (1962) concept of "paradigm shift." The paradigm defines the "normal science" of an age—as accepted by the majority of the practicing scientists in a field—and a shift (or revolution) may occur when enough renegade and heretical scientists gain enough evidence and enough power to overthrow the existing paradigm. "Power" is made visible in the social and political aspects of science: research and professorial positions at major universities, influence within funding agencies, control of journals and conferences, prestigious books, and so forth. I define a paradigm as a model shared by most but not all members of a scientific community, designed to describe and interpret observed or inferred phenomena, past or present, and aimed at building a testable body of knowledge open to rejection or confirmation. In other words, a paradigm captures the scientific thinking of the majority but most of the time it coexists with competing paradigms—as is necessary if new paradigms are to displace old paradigms.

Philosopher of science Michael Ruse, in The Darwinian Paradigm (1989), identified at least four usages of the word.

1. Sociological, focusing on "a group of people who come together, feeling themselves as having a shared outlook (whether they do really, or not), and to an extent separating themselves off from other scientists" (pp. 124-125). Freudian psychoanalysts within psychology are a good example of science guided by a sociological paradigm.

2. Psychological, where individuals within the paradigm literally see the world differently from those outside the paradigm. We have all seen the reversible figures in perceptual experiments, such as the old woman/young woman shifting figure where the perception of one precludes the perception of the other. In this particular perceptual experiment, presenting subjects with a strong "young woman" image followed by the ambiguous figure always produces the perception of the young woman, while presenting a strong "old woman" image followed by the ambiguous figure produces the perception of the old woman 95 percent of the time (Leeper 1935).

Similarly, some researchers view aggression in humans primarily as biologically innate and essential, while others view it primarily as culturally induced and dispensable. Those who focus their research on proving one or the other of these views would be doing science guided by a psychological paradigm: both views have support, but the choice of which to believe more is influenced by psychological factors.

3. Epistemological, where "one's ways of doing science are bound up with the paradigm" because the research techniques, problems, and solutions are determined by the hypotheses, theories, and models. A theory of phrenology that leads to the development of phrenological equipment for measuring bumps on the skull would be an example of science guided by an epistemological paradigm.

4. Ontological, where in the deepest sense "what there is depends crucially on what paradigm you hold. For Priestley, there literally was no such thing as oxygen In the case of Lavoisier, he not only believed in oxygen: oxygen existed" (pp. 125-126). Similarly, for Georges Buffon and Charles Lyell, varieties in a population were merely degenerates from the originally created kind; nature eliminated them to preserve the essence of the species. For Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, varieties were the key to evolutionary change. Each view depends on a different ontological paradigm: Buffon and Lyell could not see varieties as evolutionary engines because evolution did not exist for them; Darwin and Wallace did not view varieties as degenerative because degeneration is irrelevant to evolution.

My definition of a paradigm holds for the sociological, psychological, and epistemological uses. To make it wholly ontological, however, would mean that any paradigm is as good as any other paradigm because there is no outside source for corroboration. Tealeaf reading and economic forecasting, sheep's livers and meteorological maps, astrology and astronomy, all equally determine reality under an ontological paradigm. This is not even wrong. It is ridiculous. As difficult as it is for economists and meteorologists to predict the future, they are still better at it than tealeaf readers and sheep's liver diviners. Astrologers cannot explain the interior workings of a star, predict the outcome of colliding galaxies, or chart the course of a spacecraft to Jupiter. Astronomers can, for the simple reason that they operate within a scientific paradigm that is constantly refined against the harsh realities of nature itself.

Science is progressive because its paradigms depend upon the cumulative knowledge gained through experimentation, corroboration, and falsification. Pseudoscience, nonscience, superstition, myth, religion, and art are not progressive because they do not have goals or mechanisms that allow the accumulation of knowledge that builds on the past. Their paradigms either do not shift or coexist with other paradigms. Progress, in the cumulative sense, is not their purpose. This is not a criticism, just an observation. Artists do not improve upon the styles of their predecessors; they invent new styles. Priests, rabbis, and ministers do not attempt to improve upon the sayings of their masters; they repeat, interpret, and teach them. Pseudoscientists do not correct the errors of their predecessors; they perpetuate them.

By cumulative change I mean, then, that when a paradigm shifts, scientists do not abandon the entire science. Rather, what remains useful in the paradigm is retained as new features are added and new interpretations given. Albert Einstein emphasized this point in reflecting upon his own contributions to physics and cosmology: "Creating a new theory is not like destroying an old barn and erecting a skyscraper in its place. It is rather like climbing a mountain, gaining new and wider views, discovering unexpected connections between our starting point and its rich environment. But the point from which we started out still exists and can be seen, although it appears smaller and forms a tiny part of our broad view gained by the mastery of the obstacles on our adventurous way up" (in Weaver 1987, p. 133). Even though Darwin replaced the theory of special creation with that of evolution by natural selection, much of what came before was retained in the new theory—Linnean classification, descriptive geology, comparative anatomy, and so forth. What changed was how these various fields were linked to one another through history—the theory of evolution. There was cumulative growth and paradigmatic change. This is scientific progress, defined as the cumulative growth of a system of knowledge - over time, in which useful features are retained and nonuseful features are abandoned, based on the rejection or confirmation of testable knowledge.

The Triumph of Science

Though I have defined science as progressive, I admit it is not possible to know whether the knowledge uncovered by the scientific method is absolutely certain because we have no place outside—no Archimedean point—from which to view Reality. There is no question but that science is heavily influenced by the culture in which it is embedded, and that scientists may all share a common bias that leads them to think a certain way about nature. But this does not take anything away from the progressive feature of science, in the cumulative sense.

In this regard, philosopher Sydney Hook makes an interesting comparison between the arts and sciences: "Raphael's Sistine Madonna without Raphael, Beethoven's sonatas and symphonies without Beethoven, are inconceivable. In science, on the other hand, it is quite probable that most of the achievements of any given scientist would have been attained by other individuals working in the field" (1943, p. 35). The reason for this is that science, with progress as one of its primary goals, seeks understanding through objective methods (even though it rarely attains it). The arts seek provocation of emotion and reflection through subjective means. The more subjective the endeavor, the more individual it becomes, and therefore difficult if not impossible for someone else to produce. The more objective the pursuit, the more likely it is that someone else will duplicate the achievement. Science actually depends upon duplication for verification. Darwin's theory of natural selection would have occurred to another scientist—and, in fact, did occur to Alfred Russel Wallace simultaneously—because the scientific process is empirically verifiable.

In the Industrial West, the emphasis on scientific and technological progress has affected Western cultures deeply—so much so that we now define a culture as progressive if it encourages the development of science and technology. In science, useful features are retained and nonuseful features are abandoned through the confirmation or rejection of testable knowledge by the community of scientists. The scientific method, in this way, is constructed to be progressive. In technology, useful features are retained and nonuseful features are abandoned based on the rejection or acceptance of the technologies by the consuming public. Technologies, then, are also constructed to be progressive. Cultural traditions (art, myth, religion) may exhibit some of the features found in science and technology, such as being accepted or rejected within their own community or by the public, but none have had as their primary goal cumulative growth through an indebtedness to the past. But in the Industrial West, culture has taken on a new guise: it has as a primary goal the accumulation of cultural traditions and artifacts, and it uses, ignores, and returns to cultural traditions and artifacts as needed to aid the progress of science and technology. We cannot, in any absolute sense, equate happiness with progress, or progress with happiness, but an individual who finds happiness in a variety of knowledge and artifacts, cherishes novelty and change, and esteems the living standards set by the Industrial West will view a culture driven by scientific and technological progress as progressive.

Lately the word progress has taken on a pejorative meaning, implying superiority over those who "have not progressed as far," namely, they have not adopted the values or the standard of living defined by the Industrial West, because they are either not able or not willing to encourage the development of science and technology. I do not mean progress to have this pejorative sense. Whether or not a culture pursues science and technology does not make one culture better than another or one way of life more moral than another or one people happier than another. Science and tech nology have plenty of limitations, and they are double-edge swords. Science has made the modern world, but it may also unmake it. Our advances in the physical sciences have given us plastics and plastic explosives, cars and tanks, supersonic transports and B-l bombers; they have also put men on the moon and missiles in silos. We travel faster and further, but so do our destructive agents. Medical advances allow us to live twice as long as our ancestors did a mere 150 years ago, and now we have a potentially devastating overpopulation problem without a corresponding overproduction solution. Discoveries in anthropology and cosmology have given us insight into the origins of species and the workings of the universe. But for many people, these insights and their corresponding ideologies are an insult to personal and religious beliefs and a provocative threat to the comfortable status quo. Our scientific and technological progress has, for the first time in history, given us many ways of causing the extinct-tion of our own species. This is neither good nor bad. It is simply the out come of a cumulative system of knowledge. But flawed as it may be, science is at present the best method we have for doing what we want it to do. As Einstein observed, "One thing I have learned in a long life: that all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike—and yet it is I the most precious thing we have."

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