Rees' Piece: "Eureka?"

Ben Rees

Ah, science, the ivory tower upon which all discourse rests its gentle chin. Thank goodness for the tremendous power and insight this miraculous tool grants us. If at this point any of my readership senses a faint sense of sarcasm, they would be genuinely mistaken. While I am not always the most serious, I believe that science possesses great value for our society, without which, things like bathing and flossing would still be taboo. (This is also not a joke; bathing was looked upon as unhealthy for centuries in Europe).

Aside from these glorious feats, science has provided mankind with a plenitude of vaccines, medical practices, chemicals and weight loss pills–yes, even Anna Nicole thinks science likes her body. Men can enlarge whatever they please and women can give birth far beyond the once dreaded biological finish line that is middle age. To quote Patton Oswalt: “We’re science! All about ’coulda, not ’shoulda.” Although through the lenses of science some seriously profound ideas come to fruition, occasionally science is misguided. There are some things science provides that are not finite or even remotely beneficial, and we as a critical race should look upon them skeptically when suggested.

Disclaimer: science provides more fruitful objects and pursuits than most disciplines could even imagine, but as I am a cynical, pesky person unable to produce anything more intelligent than bashing a profound and productive process, I shall continue with my tear.

Let us begin with the social sciences. Even the phrase “social science” sounds misguided. There cannot be any way to completely prove social phenomena, as you have to deal with people. A lot of the time, the general populace is not a predictable group. They riot, pirate, litter and speed. Conversely, the general populace may sometimes be far too predictable. They sit, watch “Wheel of Fortune,” spend and eat–a lot. I’m no statistician, but this sounds like a hypothetical nightmare.

Also, economics is simply not science. I enjoy my fair share of market watching, but every 10 years or so the bottom falls out much to everyone’s surprise. If this happened in disciplines like chemistry, our worlds would fall apart or, more appropriately, combust. The S&P can implode and pensions will eventually rally, but if physicists found out that their predictions on inertia were wrong, humans would have some serious re-tinkering to do.

Quick thought: a side effect of the massive scientific energy spent creating rubber and plastic is the super-ball. Mull that over.

Medical science, while immensely beneficial, is simply an educated guess. For example, aspirin and its chemically similar predecessors have been used for centuries. The first patented drug called aspirin hit the market in 1897, but it was not until the 1960s that anyone actually knew how it did what it did. Fear not though, your flu shot can always prevent you from getting the … well, never mind. Also, I simply cannot understand the potential positive impact of the following: false fingernails, sea monkeys and studies showing that men can self-induce lactation.

Being ambitious is nothing to scoff at, yet when a discipline possesses as much power as science, perhaps there should be some sort of censoring mechanism in place. As Oswalt stated, just because one has the power to do certain things does not mean that one should.

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