This is my first blog ever. Aaah....now you all know who I am and where I sit in the class. My name is Hema (pronounced Hey-ma as in "Hey- ma,
what's for dinner?").
I am having a bit of a problem with one of the six principles of scientific thinking - the one which states that "extra-ordinary claims require extra-ordinary evidence". The adjective, extra-ordinary, is way too subjective in my opinion and does not belong in a science-oriented class.
Not many years ago, people would have thought it extra-ordinary if someone had said that they could determine the gender of the fetus but to us, it is rather straight-forward. On a related matter, the claim that the child's gender is determined by the male parent would have seemed preposterous. I know that my mother was astounded when I told her that she was not to 'blame' for having four daughters and no sons.
Following are a few more examples of what we once would have deemed extra-ordinary claims but now accept:
- You can go from New York to LA in 7 hours,
- The continents were once joined,
- Sound, video, and data can be transmitted speedily over great distances.
- Humans and the great apes share a common ancestor.
A claim is a claim. Evidence can either support it or refute it. To say that a claim is extra-ordinary says more about the reference frame of the speaker, not of the claim. As the examples above show, our collective ignorance is what convinced us that the statements are extra-ordinary. No claim needs to be cloaked by an adjective, not by scientists. Such embellishments are more the realm of politicians, the tabloid news media, and the like. Scientists ought to be more interested in the robustness of the idea and the succinctness of their wording.
Please note that I only have a problem with the word 'extra-ordinary' and none whatsoever with the principle that a claim requires evidence. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
While on the subject of 'extra-ordinary', check this out:
Who would have thought it possible?!!!