Chapter 15

Presenting Evidence and Justifying Opinions

In This Chapter

arrow Spotting everyday unreliable evidence

arrow Questioning scientists

arrow Struggling with statistics

Physicists have shown that all matter consists of a few basic particles ruled by a few basic forces. Scientists have also stitched their knowledge into an impressive, if not terribly detailed, narrative of how we came to be . . . I believe that this map of reality that scientists have constructed, and this narrative of creation, from the big bang through the present, is essentially true. It will thus be as viable 100 or even 1,000 years from now as it is today. I also believe that, given how far science has already come, and given the limits constraining further research, science will be hard-pressed to make any truly profound additions to the knowledge it has already generated. Further research may yield no more great revelations or revolutions but only incremental returns.

John Horgan (The End of Science: Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age, 1996, Addison-Wesley)

Sounds pretty authoritative? Since John Hogan, sometime editor of Scientific American, wrote these words, astronomers have decided ...

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