Posted by: jhvn | 10/07/2014

How Arrogant Can a Scientist Be! ?

Folks have asked, “What happened to the Geezer?

Apologies! This geezer has gotten swept up by many distractions — house repairs, family matters, financial matters (understanding the bills), etc. etc. All manifestations of the geezerhood slowdown and the cultural speedup.

This morning NPR had a story that got this geezer’s dander up. So here goes.

Why Saying is Believing – The Science of Self-talk
NPR Morning Edition, October 7, 2014

How arrogant can a scientist be!? Laura Starecheski, the hostess, described boosting her confidence to do a good job with this interview by talking to herself – using her own name. Ethan Cross, a psychologist at U. of MI. whom she was interviewing, appreciatively responded, “Your experience is borne out by our data”. A more truthful response would have been “Your experience supports our data.”

Starecheski’s experience was real and valid for her, regardless of Cross’s data. The entire piece emphasized that using one’s own name in talking to one’s self can effectively increase one’s self-confidence. Starcheski demonstrated for herself the truth of Cross’s findings.

Scientific research is essential for increasing human understanding of the universe in which we live. But the scientism of our culture elevates scientific data to ultimate truth. In fact scientific data reveals only the results of a particular experiment or study. The parameters of any study or experiment cannot account for all possible variables, since the experimenter could never be aware of them all. The reality of the universe contains vastly more than human consciousness can comprehend. That’s why scientists constantly modify previous scientific findings – as quantum physicists are modifying Einstein’s theories, who in turn had modified Newton’s “laws” of gravitation and motion. Showing more scientific humility would have enabled Cross to support his findings more effectively , and might open his awareness to reality that he cannot now imagine.

You can hear the whole thing at


  1. I recently finished reading the excellent Einstein biography written by Walter Isaacson. In his book Isaacson writes, “Like a good scientist, Einstein could change his attitudes when confronted with new evidence.” Einstein was a man of scientific humility, and your post again speaks to that. Thanks!

    • I too was inspired by that bio of Einstein, and I do admire his scientific humility — and his integrity. Evidentally he never fully accepted Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, witness his famous statement, “God does not play dice with the universe.” St. Oren of Iona said it for me, “The way you think it is, is not the way it is at all.”

  2. Great to hear the Geezer rant a Geez again! You are supporting the sacred data! I am the only one who can interpret who I am and engage the I that you present and interpret. Who needs scientific research to demonstrate the Word recorded in Scripture: I AM is who I am, created in the image of I AM both male and female!

    • Thanks, Denis. I’m glad to see that you’re as ornary as ever. Keep on being who you are – unique in the universe.

  3. You are correct, of course, that scientific results are limited by the variables that are considered. But scientific results do not address “truth”, they address “fact”. Truth is only as good as the collective facts supporting it. But here is the dilemma: we take many things to be “true” that are not supportable by scientific fact simply because we are incapable of developing either an acceptable experiment or a provable theory. Hence “faith”.

    • It seems to this geezer that “truth” differs from “fact”. A story, such as The Emporer’s New Clothes, contains truth, even though it may contain no historical fact. Truth is known only by inner experience,; and truth may differ for different individuals. What a paradox and dilemma; but that seems to be the way it is.

  4. I’m a friend of your son, Tim. I told him I turned 65 last week and had officially entered geezerhood. Naturally he referred me to your blog, which is excellent. I’ll be back! Thanks.

    • Thanks Greg. From your web site, you appear to incarnate the creative geezer. I’ll have to cultivate your prowess in poking fun at myself and at all the life changes that constitute geezerhood and add to our wisdom. I’ll appreciate your further remarks.

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