Impractical Science

Something that irks me is the notion that the only science worthy of being conducted is that which has a direct practical application. I think if humans were omniscient enough to know what is useful, then we really would be past doing science.

Photo by Roxanne Shewchuk on Pexels.com

The case which prompted this post: the reconstruction of a mummy larynx. True, it doesn’t directly help a living person. Plenty of people damage theirs in car accidents, falls, etc. By acquiring an 3D image of the person’s and building a replica, we could replace lost ones. And the person could have their same voice. Voice is part of identity given we recognize others by the sound of theirs. Mechanical replacements that sound inhuman are like wheelchairs: approximation, but the user still loses a lot.

Science and technology are collaborative endeavors. Others replicate a finding. They take an idea and do something similar but different to see if there were hidden variables that change the finding. Or, produce a product from the idea.

Too much focus on practical science is what led us to the Replication Crisis in psychology. People needing a useful result, meant not enough people replicating experiments to see if the results held. Mythical results went years without anyone publishing they were bunk.

Evolution makes us think our kid is adorable

Children are wired to seek protection from adults around them. Being born years before their ability to survive on the savannah, they need us to keep them safe from the dangers around them. And being adorable is how they ensure we will do so.

It is not vanity making us think our child is the cutest of all. Adults who find their offspring adorable spend more time aware of them and keeping them out of danger to survive to produce descendants. It is an evolutionary hack of our brains.

Of course, even knowing all this, I think my own is still the most adorable of all. Cognitive dissonance tells me so.