Scientific truths shaped by society

The scope of scientific knowledge cannot begin to be evaluated without first attempting to define what science is. It can be characterised as both an accumulation of knowledge and a process, which builds and amends this base. The amount of social and cultural input that goes into this can be a contentious issue amongst the scientific community and the public in general.

Often, the impact of these external influences is not sufficiently acknowledged in the literature, and instead a terse factual account is given. Whilst the events that take place in the research setting may be neutral, the occurrences before and even after this stage are not always so. Part of the preceding dialogue is illustrated by the allocation of funding into certain avenues of research over others and is often dependent on the amount of political will and social backing behind it.

The very essence of being human is being fallible and prone to mistakes. Some scientific discoveries have been made in this way through trial and error, even through sheer serendipity. Other insights have been the result of painstaking endeavour. Perhaps the expression of another intrinsically human emotion, curiosity, pushing the desire to learn and understand.

Wherever these discoveries lie on the spectrum, be it meandering or linear, the route taken to reach this point does not make the findings any less profound, nor does it take away from the impact it may have on the world and vice versa. The point is science is not static, it is, or at least our comprehension of it is always evolving.

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Fathayha Begum


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