August 16, 2020

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: RE: ‘The Paradox of Fall Semester’

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To the Editor:

In his editorial entitled, ‘The Paradox of the Fall Semester’ Andrew V. Lorenzen presented a thoughtful analysis of the science involved in re-opening Cornell. In particular, he analyzed the assumptions, axioms, postulates, self-evident facts or whatever you want to call them, upon which the model and the analysis were based. This is so rarely done in the use, misuse and abuse of science today. I applaud Mr. Lorenzen for presenting science as it should be presented. In a speech entitled, What is Science?, Richard Feynman said: “As a matter of fact, I can also define science another way: Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts. When someone says, ‘Science teaches such and such,’ he is using the word incorrectly. Science doesn’t teach anything; experience teaches it. If they say to you, ‘Science has shown such and such,’ you might ask, ‘How does science show it? How did the scientists find out? How? What? Where?’ It should not be ‘science has shown’ but ‘this experiment, this effect, has shown.’ And you have as much right as anyone else, upon hearing about the experiments — but be patient and listen to all the evidence — to judge whether a sensible conclusion has been arrived at.”

Thank you again, Mr. Lorenzen.

Prof. Randy Wayne, Plant Biology