This week I will blog about the philosophy of gathering information before I venture more deeply into scientific method next week & more specific blog entries of issues dealing with science in future. I feel that it is important to start with the basics before getting into more complex arguments. The focus here will be on how knowledge evolves over time & why new information has to be continuously collected.
One of the most important things you learn as a scientist or teacher or historian or student or any kind of information analyst is that you must consider all of the facts available to you before you make a conclusion/judgment. Even then, new facts continue to be collected and things do change.
In the ancient days, the facts available about how the physics of nature and observations made of the universe were not as well understood as they are today. For instance, if you were to consider all the facts available with the naked eye (first telescope was not available until 16th century) and other technology available in ancient times, it would be completely sensible to conclude that the Earth is the center of the universe or that humans were around since the formation of Earth from a fairly recent period.
It was not until the 16th century that the heliocentric model was first presented by Copernicus with use of geometry as evidence. Copernicus’ model was further improved upon by Galileo and Johannes Kepler with data collected from telescopes.
It took almost another century before it began to be accepted by general public (Galileo, who was adamant that heliocentric model was the proper one, was arrested by Roman Catholic Church to try to stop the ‘heretic’ heliocentric model from being accepted). Isaac Newton, of course, came along in 17th century and invented calculus & laws of motion that permanently obliterated the geocentric model.
As you can see, knowledge is continuously built upon previous knowledge. There is no status quo in science as the job of collecting new data is never finished.
Knowledge Over Time
As time passes and as you gather more data and facts about the universe/physics/etc, I believe it is important and sensible to alter those conclusions reached before with old tools and observations. New tools and new observations leading to new updated information being collected dictates that the old conclusions also need to be updated. It does not stand to have new information, tools, and methods available but refuse to reconsider old conclusions reached.
Knowledge is an on-going process with no bounds. Gathering information to build upon previous knowledge is like an never-ending river that flows and flows while endlessly branching. For every conclusion you reach, there are ten more questions waiting to be asked. That applies to any kind of learning.
As an aspiring IT analyst, I can say that I would be doing a disservice to refuse to budge from previous conclusions if a new analysis shows new results and new data. The old conclusions do not necessarily have to be thrown out, but you continue to reshape and re-think the conclusions based on the facts available to you at each junction in time. A good analyst would have to realize that and be flexible or else they would not be doing a thorough job. This applies to ALL things in life as well. Do your own research and be thorough. Don’t just take somebody’s word but see where they got their information. Ask questions. Too often, this is not done.
Next week, I will take this a step further and define the scientific method (how it came to be, what the intricacies of it are, etc). From there, I plan on going into more depth into philosophy and other sciences as well in the future.
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