With this, The Scripps Research Institute’s Ryan Shenvi delivers a captivating exposition of why the most important function of science is not to provide answers, but to ask more and better questions in order to advance our knowledge – and what is critical to this process.
From CS Lewis, one of the greatest literary critics and debate masters of the 20th century, to Karl Popper, grandfather of science philosophy, to his own use of the scientific method to overturn assumptions about processes in metabolic reactions — and perhaps provide better preventive treatments against malarial infection — Ryan weaves a fascinating and engaging proof of one of the most fundamental, but most oft forgotten facts about science. As Karl Popper wrote: “There is no such thing as proof in science…science advances only by disproof.”
With some interesting stops along the way to ask — and answer — simple questions like “is water really blue?” Ryan goes beyond a convincing proof of Popper. What qualities enable this process of continual disproof we call the scientific method?
Ryan’s vital message is the absolute necessity of imagination and critical thinking in asking the questions that advance this process of “disproof,” and give us assurances that we do know what we know.