TOK essay Yoonhee, Ki Word Count: 688 “Doubt is the key to knowledge”. To what extent is this true in the area of knowledge “The natural sciences”? Natural science is one of the most remarkable achievements that mankind could have achieved because it gives us chance to step forward toward mysteries of the world, secrets of living organisms; furthermore it improves our quality of lives by offering convenient materials that our ancestors had never dreamed of. These achievements of natural science made people to consider it as the most certain subject next to or as equal as mathematics.
However science has not only strengths but also several limitations. So to what extent should we believe science and to what extent should we uncertainty the knowledge extracted from the natural science? According to the theory of scientism, “Science is the only way we can make sense of reality and discover the truth”. This statement demonstrates that as science has unreasonable power and influence on humans, we don’t need to doubt the absoluteness and certainty of it. Even one prominent philosopher Rudolf Carnap commented that science is capable of finding all the answers to all the questions.
The reason that such statements and views exist is because without suspicion the natural science accomplished the most remarkable successes. Furthermore, it’s been in charge of the significant development of knowledge throughout the history and until now. For example, several scientists discovered the mysteries of our body such as how digestion occurs, how blood flows in the heart and functions and structures of organs by dissecting the real human bodies and analyzing through information obtained from equipments.
As it is already proved by several methods and works in practical world such as medical science, we admit the natural science as truth and there is no place for doubt to stand. If we start to doubt all these knowledge, it will not conduce to obtaining the knowledge but produce endless confusions in understanding reality and if current knowledge is not true, what kind of knowledge and how it will replace the place of current natural science which works perfectly with our present world and reality.
On the other hand, some people made counter arguments to those prior arguments by saying that people have to maintain a critical attitude to our scientific beliefs and be willing to doubt those assumptions. First reason why doubt is the key to scientific knowledge is that as scientists use intuitivism in creating scientific theories, observation which is the first step has many problems. For instance, the video shown in the class proved that in conducting experiment the presence of people affect the result of the experiment but in general scientists don’t take consideration of this problem.
And how can we be so sure that there will be no case that contradicts the hypothesis as long as we can’t observe every single case. Another reason why we have to doubt scientific knowledge is that when making hypothesis because of the confirmation bias, the act of ignoring unpredicted data as error happens. For example, when I conduct a biology experiment if there is only one result that doesn’t work with my hypothesis I consider it as anomaly and remove from the data by asserting that it is experimental error produced by the variable which I failed to control.
If for these reasons, the experimental results are not accurate how can law and theory be truth? Even infinitesimally minor mistake may disrupt the theories and laws of science which should be rigorous truth. Over time, scientific paradigms have been shifted numerous times to the ones that provide better explanations as scientists doubted the prior paradigms and endeavored to get better knowledge of our world. For those reasons, doubt plays a key role in getting the knowledge in the natural science.
In conclusion, to some extent we have to accept the scientific knowledge as long as they are consistent and have practical values in the real world. However, it is also necessary that scientists should doubt the certainty of natural science as there is high probability of making mistakes in the process of induction. Even though the natural science is the greatest success that mankind accomplished, this is hard to be the explanation for the absolute certainty of natural science.