Re: virus: Tools of the trade

ken sartor (
Wed, 18 Sep 1996 09:01:57 -0500

At 07:35 AM 9/18/96 -0400, Wade T. Smith wrote:
>>> And what question may science 'by definition' not even try to answer?

>In what way, again, do you think the scientific investigation of the
>natural universe lacks the 'tools' necessary to answer these
>'philosophical' questions you seem to think require supernatural

In principle i agree. However, in order to do something useful
(say, cure an infection) one does not need to understand the
underlying nature of the problem. (It is preferable to understand
it, of course.)

This seems to me to be where we are in studying human consciousness
and a plethora of other very interesting topics. We know the
questions well, but have no capabilities to address them scientifically.
So there are various choices we can make: ignore the question (i.e.,
wait until more data comes in or someone really smart figures out
how to address the question), address the question phenomenologically
(i.e., explain it best as we can by 'reasonable' hand waving), other
methods (which don't come to mind right now).

So, maybe there are scientists addressing problems one way and
'witch doctors' another - given time, the witch doctors will probably
become obsolete, but at any given point in time, for some given
problem, they may be significantly ahead of the scientists.