As someone who has just obtained his BSc. in Software Engineering, I'd like to think that I have seen a fair bit of both the good and bad in human tendencies. One of the bad tendencies is to be susceptible to bribes, corruption and the like.

I think it is fairly reasonable to say that politicians, lawyers and perhaps to some extent, even doctors have fallen prey to the temptations of more money (or something like it) in exchange for loosening their ethical stands.

There are many areas within say physics (the study of outer space) and biology (the study of the brain) where there is a lot of debate among the scientific community and rightly so.

Given these unknowns, and the fact that even scientists can be driven by external agendas rather than be completely unbiased, how and where do I look for the purest scientific information?

closed as off topic by iphigenie, Dennis, Ben, Jon Ericson, user2953 Jun 1 '13 at 18:34

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  • Just to clarify, have you read any of the philosophical writing on matters of the social constructions of scientific theories (e.g. Kuhn VS Popper), and is there anything in particular you want to know about the issues they raise, or are you just looking for references? – Paul Ross Apr 9 '13 at 12:33
  • This question directly relates to the area of academic philosophy of science called "science and values," and as such should be open. See the overview here: philpapers.org/browse/science-and-values. – Dan Hicks Feb 15 '17 at 11:34

How susceptible is the scientific community to politics and other intrusion?

Like everyone else scientists are only human after all. Thus, individual scientists may be biased and jealous; they may intrigue against colleagues, or engage in nepotism; they often are emotionally attached to their subject matter in being passionate researchers, and they sometimes do not see the weak spots, if not flaws, in their own work; in particular they are usually interested in having their hypotheses and theories confirmed, not refuted — after all, Nobel prizes are not awarded for the falsification of a theory. Research institutions including universities are now run more like businesses, so that there is severe competition for funds and a strong pressure to focus on applied science and technology at the expense of basic science.

The system of logical, semantical, methodological, and attitudinal ideals constitutes the institutional rationality of science even though individual scientists may more or less often fail to behave rationally. However biased the individual scientist may be, the institutional values are the basis for the institutional objectivity of science. Rationality is present only at the level of the institutionalized community. Objectivity, then, is a characteristic of a institutionalized community’s practice of science rather than of an individual’s. There are conditions that a institutionalized scientific community must satisfy in order to qualify as rationally developing scientific knowledge:

  1. There must exist within the community recognized and approved forums or avenues for the criticism of theories, evidence, experiments, assumptions, and inferences.

  2. The criticism must be effective in that the community at times changes its belief and practices in response to it. Criticism is not merely tolerated and ignored.

  3. As a background for criticism, the community must have publicly recognized and shared standards that provide the criteria for evaluating theories, hypotheses, experiments, data analysis, etc. These establish standards for the quality and relevance of criticism.

  • This answer gives a nice summary of Helen Longino's account of objectivity, as discussed in her books Science as Social Knowledge and The Fate of Knowledge. My only complaint is that Longino should have been credited. – Dan Hicks Feb 15 '17 at 11:36

Given these unknowns, and the fact that even scientists can be driven by external agendas rather than be completely unbiased, how and where do I look for the purest scientific information?

I think that a case can be made that every scientist is in somehow biased towards the views they hold. Otherwise they probably would not be holding them.

I think the question you are hinting at is does a person status as biased somehow influence the validity of his or her claims. That is a interesting question.

I would posit that a person personal convictions rarely has a influence on whether a proposition is true or not. It is entirely possible that for any given proposition that can be true their could be many people who for instance have the view it is...

a) False b) True c) Impossible to know either way

And for the inverse it is probably also true.

Now does all these variances of believes about a propositions validity now somehow have a influence on whether said issue is true or not.

I think not.

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