Paul Hartal


Science Is Unscientific - Poem by Paul Hartal

The Professor rose from his chair.
He moved the book to the middle
Of the table as he stood up.

"Now, listen! " he said in an amicable voice.
"Science prides itself in being factual,
objective, precise, unbiased, detached
and verifiable, free from introversion,
a way of knowing things without added colours
and portraying accurately the physical world
in its own light".

The Turtle was sipping his ginger ale.

"Oh, this description of science is nothing
but a myth", he said. "As I see it,
even the most magnificent accomplishments
of science involve emotions,
an individual sense of wonder and curiosity,
the psychological experience of the rapturous
and the mystical. Consequently,
a paradoxical and built in property
of science concerns
its own unscientific disposition.
And therefore, in my opinion,
science is thoroughly unscientific."

"Nonsense", the professor objected.
"If science were really unscientific,
as you claim, it could not produce
nuclear energy, airplanes, or computers.
And it could not put
astronauts on the moon".

"Well, I indeed never stop to wonder,
How is it possible that with so little knowledge
humans can accomplish so much? "
the Turtle said.

And then he added:
"But, you should not
confuse science with technology".


"I don't get your point", the Professor said,
"because you still did not provide me with
a good justification of your negative view
of science".

"Look! Science stands on very shaky
theoretical foundations", the Turtle explained.
This is so due to its reduction
of the concrete whole
to incomplete abstractions. Ironically,
the more scientific science tries to be,
the less scientific it becomes.
Science is rational and logical but the
universe, which it investigates is not.
We cannot separate ourselves
from the world outside.
Therefore, an objective investigation
of actuality ought to incorporate
the subjective experience.
The depiction of reality must be total.
Otherwise it cannot be truly scientific.
Mind you, ignoring the dominant
subjective realm of existence does not
make the world more objective.
Imagine, for example, a computer
that tries to understand
the human world without understanding
the human mind and human emotions".

A moment of silence ensued.
The Professor sank into his thoughts.
The Turtle took another sip
from the ginger ale.

"I'm not sure",
the Professor said eventually,
"that it would be a good thing
evolving a computer to a level
in which it would understand
such human qualities as humour, concern,
loyalty, compassion, love and anger.
I wonder if such a cybernetic device
would be our servant or our master."


Poet's Notes about The Poem

Sort of a contemporary verse fable, the dialogue in this poem echoes part of a thesis advanced in the author's book, The Brush and the Compass: The Interface Dynamics of Art and Science; Lanham, MD: University Press of America,1988. ISBN 0-8191-6848-3

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, May 23, 2012



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