Saturday, 22 November 2014

All Scientists Have Unconscious Biases, Microbiologist Says

Sir Isaac Newton's portrait by Godfrey Kneller (1702). Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

A recent article in the journal Nature on the merits of scientific fame included an interesting admission:

All scientists have unconscious biases,” Laura Piddock, a microbiologist at the University of Birmingham, UK, said.

Some people tend to think that wearing a white lab coat makes one sort of unbiased and infallible. This, of course, is by no means true. Scientists are real human beings with real hopes, aspirations and beliefs.

And biases.

Unfortunately, some scientists believe that nature is all that there is – that the supernatural sphere does not exist. For them science is not a search for the best explanation but it is a search for the best naturalistic explanation.

In contrast, the great pioneers of science, such as Sir Isaac Newton, were not biased in that way.

Science can be misused and elevated to the status of a religion.

Scientism is something that C. S. Lewis warned us about.


Woolston, Chris. 2014. Being a big name in science brings benefits. Nature (12 November).