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大学英语精读:第五册 UNIT 5

2007-03-02 08:30   来源:旺旺英语       我要纠错 | 打印 | 收藏 | | |

  As the author points out below, the success of science has less to do with a particular method than with an essential attitude of the scientist. This attitude is essentially one of inquiry, experimentation and humility before the facts. Therefore, a good scientist is an honest one. True scientists do not bow to any authority but they are ever ready to modify or even abandon their ideas if adequate evidence is found contradicting them. Scientists, they do place a high value on honesty.

Science and the Scientific Attitude

by Paul G. Hewitt

  Science is the body of knowledge about nature that represents the collective efforts, insights, findings, and wisdom of the human race. Science is not something new but had its beginnings before recorded history when humans first discovered reoccurring relationships around them. Through careful observations of these relationships, they began to know nature and, because of nature's dependability, found they could make predictions to enable some control over their surroundings.

  Science made its greatest headway in the sixteenth century when people began asking answerable questions about nature —— when they began replacing superstition by a systematic search for order —— when experiment in addition to logic was used to test ideas. Where people once tried to influence natural events with magic and supernatural forces, they now had science to guide them. Advance was slow, however, because of the powerful opposition to scientific methods and ideas.

  In about 1510 Copernicus suggested that the sun was stationary and that the earth revolved about the sun. He refuted the idea that the earth was the center of the universe. After years of hesitation, he published his findings but died before his book was circulated. His book was considered heretical and dangerous and was banned by the Church for 200 years. A century after Copernicus, the mathematician Bruno was burned at the stake —— largely for supporting Copernicus, suggesting the sun to be a star, and suggesting that space was infinite. Galileo was imprisoned for popularizing the Copernican theory and for his other contributions to scientific thought. Yet a couple of centuries later, Copernican advocates seemed harmless.

  This happens age after age. In the early 1800s geologists met with violent condemnation because they differed with the Genesis account of creation. Later in the same century, geology was safe, but theories of evolution were condemned and the teaching of them forbidden. This most likely continues. "At every crossway on the road that leads to the future, each progressive spirit is opposed by a thousand men appointed to guard the past." Every age has one or more groups of intellectual rebels who are persecuted, condemned, or suppressed at the time; but to a later age, they seem harmless and often essential to the elevation of human conditions.

  The enormous success of science has led to the general belief that scientists have developed and ate employing a "method" - a method that is extremely effective in gaining, organizing, and applying new knowledge. Galileo, famous scientist of the 1600s, is usually credited with being the "Father of the Scientific Method." His method is essentially as follows:

  1.  Recognize a problem.

  2.  Guess an answer.

  3.  Predict the consequences of the guess.

  4.  Perform experiments to test predictions.

  5.  Formulate the simplest theory organizes the three main ingredients: guess, prediction, experimental outcome.

  Although this cookbook method has a certain appeal, to has not been the key to most of the breakthroughs and discoveries in science. Trial and error, experimentation without guessing, accidental discovery, and other methods account for much of the progress in science. Rather than a particular method, the success of science has more to do with an attitude common to scientists. This attitude is essentially one of inquiry, experimentation, and humility before the facts. If a scientist holds an idea to be true and finds any counterevidence whatever, the idea is either modified or abandoned. In the scientific spirit, the idea must be modified or abandoned in spite of the reputation of the person advocating it. As an example, the greatly respected Greek philosopher Aristotle said that falling bodies fall at a speed proportional to their weight. This false idea was held to be true for more than 2,000 years because of Aristotle's immense authority. In the scientific spirit, however, a single verifiable experiment to the contrary outweighs any authority, regardless of reputation or the number of followers and advocates.

  Scientists must accept facts even when they would like them to be different. They must strive to distinguish between what they see and what they wish to see —— for humanity's capacity for self-deception is vast. People have traditionally tended to adopt general rules, beliefs, creeds, theories, and ideas without thoroughly questioning their validity and to retain them long after they have been shown to be meaningless, false, or at least questionable. The most widespread assumptions are the least questioned. Most often, when an idea is adopted, particular attention is given to cases that seem to support it, while cases that seem to refute it are distorted, belittled, or ignored. We feel deeply that it is a sign of weakness to "change out minds." Competent scientists, however, must be expert at changing their minds. This is because science seeks not to defend our beliefs but to improve them. Better theories are made by those who are not hung up on prevailing ones.

  Away from their profession, scientists are inherently no more honest or ethical than other people. But in their profession they work in an arena that puts a high premium on honesty. The cardinal rule in science is that all claims must be testable —— they must be capable, at least in principle, of being proved wrong. For example, if someone claims that a certain procedure has a certain result, it must in principle be possible to perform a procedure that will either confirm or contradict the claim. If confirmed, then the claim is regarded as useful and a stepping-stone to further knowledge. None of us has the time or energy or resources to test every claim, so most of the time we must take somebody's word. However, we must have some criterion for deciding whether one person's word is as good as another's and whether one claim is as good as another. The criterion, again, is that the claim must be testable. To reduce the likelihood of error, scientists accept the word only of those whose ideas, theories, and findings are testable —— if not in practice then at least in principle. Speculations that cannot be tested are regarded as "unscientific." This has the long-run effect of compelling honesty - findings widely publicized among fellow scientists are generally subjected to further testing. Sooner or later, mistake (and lies) are bound to be found out; wishful thinking is bound to be exposed. The honesty so important to the progress of science thus becomes a matter of self-interest to scientists.

  NEW WORDS

  represent

  vt. be a sign or symbol of; act for 代表

  collective

  a.  of or shared by a group of people 集体的

  insight

  n.  the power of using one's mind to see or understand the true nature of a situation 洞察力

  wisdom

  n.  intelligence and good judgment 智慧

  reoccur

  vi. occur again

  dependability

  n.  reliability, trustworthiness

  prediction

  n.  the act of predicting or sth. predicted 预测

  headway

  n.  motion forward; progress

  answerable

  n.  able to be answered

  replace

  vt. take or fill the place of

  superstition

  n.  a belief or practice based on ignorance, faith in magic or chance

  systematic

  a.  of, having or using a system; carried out according to a system

  supernatural

  n.  outside of or beyond the natural world 超自然的

  opposition

  n.  the act or condition of opposing; resistance

  stationary

  a.  not moving or changing; not capable of being moved

  hesitation

  n.  the act of hesitating

  publish

  vt. print and offer for sale

  circulate

  v.  (cause to) spread widely; move or send around  传播,(使)流传,(使)循环

  heretical

  a.  (of opinion) opposed to established beliefs or standards 异端的

  ban

  vt. forbid by law or decree

  largely

  ad. for the most part; mainly

  infinite

  a.  having or seeming to have no limits; endless; very large

  imprison

  vt. put in prison

  popularize

  v.  cause to be well know and generally liked or used; make (a difficult subject) easily understandable to ordinary people 使普及;推广

  geologist

  n.  a person who knows much about geology 地质学家

  violent

  a.  having, showing, or resulting from great physical force; showing or having strong feelings 强暴的;猛烈的

  condemnation

  n.  express strong disapproval of, pronounce guilty of crime or wrong 谴责;宣告……有罪

  condemnation

  n.

  genesis

  n.  the beginning or origin: (G-) the first book of the Old Testament 起源;(《旧约全书》第一卷)《创世纪》

  geology

  n.  the study of origin, structure, and history of the earth 地质学

  evolution

  n.  slow, gradual development; the scientific theory that all living things developed very slowly over millions of years from simpler forms of life 进化(论)

  crossway

  n.  crossroad; a road that crosses another

  progressive

  a.  moving forward step by step; favoring or promoting improvement or reform

  appoint

  vt. name for an office, duty or position 指定,任命

  rebel

  n.  a person who resists or opposes authority 反叛者

  persecute

  vt. treat continually in a cruel way, esp. because of political or religious beliefs 迫害

  suppress

  vt. stop or put down by force; keep in, hold back 镇压;抑制

  essential

  a.  very important; vital

  elevation

  n.  the act of raising to a higher place or position

  elevate

  vt.

  effective

  a.  able to bring about a desired result; being in force or operation

  credit

  vt. (with) believe that (sb.) has (a quality, or has done sth. good) 认为(某人)有(某种优点或成就等)

  formulate

  vt. express in an exact way 精确地阐述

  ingredient

  n.  a substance that is part of a mixture or compound 成分

  experimental

  a.  used for or connected with experiments

  outcome

  n.  a final result

  cookbook

  n.  a book of directions and recipes for cooking

  breakthrough

  n.  an important advance or discovery, often after earlier failures

  trial and error

  process of solving a problem by trying various solutions and learning from one's failures  反复试验

  experimentation

  n.  the making of experiments

  accidental

  a.  happening by chance, not by plan or intention

  counterevidence

  n.  opposing evidence

  modify

  vt. change, esp. slightly

  abandon

  vt. give up completely; leave for good, desert

  reputation

  n.  the general worth or quality of sb. or sth. as judged by others

  Greek

  n.  sb. who was born in or is a citizen of Greece; the language of the Greeks 希腊人(语)

  a.  of Greece, its people, or their language

  proportional

  a.  in proportion 成比例的

  immense

  a.  of great size, extent or degree

  verifiable

  a.  that can be checked or tested and proved to be true

  outweigh

  vt. weigh more than; exceed in value, importance or influence

  follower

  n.  a person who follows or supports a particular person, belief, or cause, etc.

  strive

  vt. try hard

  distinguish

  v.  know or see clearly the difference between two things; to hear or see clearly 区分,辨别

  humanity

  n.  human beings as a group; people

  adopt

  vt. take and use as one's own

  creed

  n.  a statement of the beliefs of principles held by a person or group 信条

  retain

  vt. continue to have; keep; hold in the mind or memory

  questionable

  a.  perhaps not true, right or honest; not certain

  assumption

  n.  sth. that is taken as a fact or believed to be true without proof

  belittle

  vt. cause to seem small or unimportant

  weakness

  n.  the condition or quality of being weak; a weak point; fault

  inherent

  a.  of or being a basic quality or characteristic of a person or thing 内在的,固有的

  inherently

  ad.

  ethical

  a.  agreeing with the rules or standards of right behavior

  ethics

  n.  moral rules or principles of behavior governing a person or group 伦理,道德

  arena

  n.  an enclosed area used for sports events and entertainments; any place of activity 竞技场;活动场所

  premium

  n.  an unusual or high value

  cardinal

  a.  chief, main, most important

  testable

  a.  capable of being tested

  procedure

  n.  a set of actions necessary for doing sth.; the method and order of directing business in an official meeting, law case, etc. 程序

  contradict

  vt. say the opposite of; disagree with 反驳;同……矛盾

  stepping-stone

  n.  a means of advancing or rising; a way of improvement or gaining success 进身之阶;垫脚石

  criterion

  n.  an established standard or principle on which a judgment or decision is based 标准

  likelihood

  n.  the fact or degree of being likely; probability

  speculation

  n.  careful thought, reflection; the act or process of guessing 沉思;推测

  speculate

  v.  reflect; guess

  unscientific

  a.  not scientific

  long-run

  a.  happening or continuing over a long period of time

  publicize

  vt. bring to public notice 宣传,公布

  publicity

  n.  (the business of bringing sb. or sth. to) public notice or attention

  wishful

  a.  having or expressing a wish

  wishful thinking

  the false belier that sth. is true of will happen simply because one wishes it 如意算盘

  PHRASRS & EXPRESSIONS

  meet with

  experience or suffer

  credit sb. with sth.

  believe sb. has sth. or is responsible for sth.

  account for

  be responsible for, explain

  have (……) to do with

  have a (……)connection with

  to the contrary

  to the opposite effect, in disagreement

  distinguish between

  tell the difference between, separate (one) from (the other)

  be hung up on / about

  (infml.) be infatuated with or enthusiastic about 迷恋;热衷于

  put a (high) premium on

  regard as (very) important

  in principle

  as regards the general truth or rule, as fat as the overall idea is concerned

  take sb.'s word (for it)

  believe sb.; accept what sb. says as correct

  in practice

  in the actual doing of sth.

  subject to

  cause to experience or undergo

  PROPER NAMES

  Paul G. Hewitt

  保罗.G.休伊特

  Copernicus

  哥白尼

  Bruno

  布鲁诺

  Galileo

  伽利略

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