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The Kil Report
The Kil Report: Alternative Medicine,Scientific Method, Evil Skeptic, Scams, Fraud, Hoaxes, Critical Thinking, Enforma
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Faith

By David Glück
Posted on: 4/5/2002

Everybody has some amount of faith in something, the differences between us are simply a matter of what or who one believes.


It’s raining today. The weather report yesterday said it would be mostly cloudy with a chance of some precipitation in the early morning hours. I planned my day around that forecast. It is now three in the afternoon and it’s raining. No, it’s pouring. Since I was scheduled to work outside today, work had to be canceled. I wouldn’t be writing this column right now if the weather report had been accurate. I wouldn’t be here. I would be at work. Because I’m self-employed, I am actively losing money today. Today, the science of meteorology let me down.

Scientific predictions are based on testing and observation. In some areas of science, the predictions are so incredibly accurate that you can set your watch by them. In fact, you do. Other areas of science attempt to predict the actions of systems that are so complex that some factors can not be known at the time of the prediction. Chaos Theory says that the predictions of complex systems will fail (to some extent) due to unknown factors. A computer model of a weather system does not take every bee fart into consideration. How can it? So, we have agreed to accept a reasonable rate of accuracy in our weather predictions knowing that every forecast comes with a built-in rate of failure. For every ninety percent chance of rain there is a ten percent chance it won’t rain. We know science isn’t always right on the money, but when it’s not, science is still close enough to be regarded as the best game in town.

When I am accused of having a faith in science, as one does a religion, my reaction is to argue the point. Science, after all, is based on observation. Unlike religion, science is testable and falsifiable. In practice however, I must admit to having a faith in science. And while I know that scientific theories are subject to change with the introduction of new evidence, which is another way science differs from religion, in most cases I am still taking somebody’s word for how things work. It comes down to this. I think of science as the best way to describe the natural world, even when I haven’t a clue as to what the scientists are talking about. That’s faith, isn’t it? I figure, with scientific method as the tool, most of the natural world will eventually be understood and sorted out. Those things that can be understood and sorted out, anyway. Again, faith.

So, faith can be a good thing. For me, it’s a matter of practicality. As much as I would like to, I just don’t have the time to know everything. I must rely on experts. We place our bets on the ideas we think will be winners. Science has delivered in many, many ways. Science has earned my faith.

But, science let me down today. According to the latest prediction, this storm will pass through by late tonight and tomorrow’s weather will be dry with a warming trend that will last though Monday. I am scheduling my activities tomorrow based on that forecast…



Special thanks to Vladina (Eileen) for proofing this report.



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