Reply To: April 28th Science, Society, and Power

Author Replies
Sanna Karlsson # Posted on April 30, 2014 at 13:33

Response to Morag Ramsey´s reflection:

Reading your reflection, I can no more than agree on the issues you brought forth, concerning how science is rather bias than is it objective, just as Fairhead also explained. He learn that himself the hard way. His book, written together with his co-worker Leach, named ”Science, Society and Power” entails this subjectivity when it comes to science. As you explained, the relations between science, society and power truly interconnect into a very entangled web.
As I read the book I experienced the same complexity between these different factors as you did. And as Fairhead said, the book was difficult to write due to this complexity of how science, society and power affect each other in diverse ways. This made me think, why so complex? Why is it so difficult to understand how different opinions and knowledge get mixed up and affect each other? Could it be so, that we sometimes let us be led by the ones in power and their position of authority of knowledge too quickly, without thinking for ourselves, even though we know that the ones in power, society or science, can be bias and not always hold the truth of things (and that this complicates matters)?
These are complicated questions by themselves. However, I believe that if knowledge was presented apart from influential powers of different kinds, we might be much more likely to distinguish what is obviously bias and what is closer to being objective. To avoid this entangled web and make sense of what is what, that is. For it seems like to me that even though we are aware of how bias science, or society can be at times, we still fall into the trap of handing our independent thinking over to the scientists or authorities to let them tell us what to do, or what knowledge to believe in. Maybe I partly over-exaggerate here, but I do think we find it comfortable to do so many times, and let someone else think for us without evaluating the facts given to us in a just way. I know I do.
I believe a lesson to learn from this entangled web, is to exercise independent thinking. Even so, independent thinking cannot be completely separate from collective thinking, since we are part of a larger community. However, to understand how to distinguish fact from fact in a society sometimes full of mainstream thinking people, some independent and sound critical thinking (best in collaboration with people who have the same aim though – that is, not to buy into whatever society tells them) will be beneficial in order to get closer to objectivity. The actual working task in which we operate in life will be where we dig deeper into understanding subjectivity from objectivity in our work we have before us. But for other information which comes our way, and in which we do have the time to investigate deeper into, we inevitably have to settle with perhaps quite subjective understanding for the moment. The key I believe, is to be open about this subjective understanding, so we are open for re-evaluation when opposing knowledge or ideas concerning the matter may arise.