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Sunday, November 01, 2009

The perfect straight line

I am currently editing a compilation of articles for a philosophy book to be published by the Centre for Civilisational Dialogue, Universiti Malaya. I came across a phrase I personally feel very interesting:
Science is not about drawing the perfect straight line.

Of course, this phrase can be interpreted in many ways. To me, most people look at science as a means to achieve perfection. But ask anyone who is a scientist, in conducting experiments, it is well-nigh impossible to draw a perfect straight line from the data gathered from the experiments conducted.

Students who study science have the tendency to manipulate and change their data so that they can draw the best straight line. Such manipulation is a manifestation of insincerity, and hence affects the students' integrity as future scientists. For, if this is to be allowed and if this is a common practice, are we to say that in the search for perfection, we are allowed to cheat? What then is the meaning of perfection when the road leading to it is far from perfect?

To me, these are thought-provoking questions. As a part-time lecturer teaching History and Philosophy of Science, I believe that the above-mentioned phrase can be a topic for a lengthy discussion all on its own.

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