Martin Budden: it encourages us to question authority

Martin Budden is a software architect. He has spent most of his working life riding the roller coaster of the microprocessor revolution. As one of the original developers of the Symbian operating system his code is in hundreds of millions of mobile phones. He thinks science is useful, but that its utility is only a minor part of why it is important.

Science is important because the act of doing science is a creative process. All creative processes are important, be they art, music, storytelling or anything else. After love, creativity is the most important human quality. Not only is science creative, it enables creation.

Science is important because it provides us with mysteries to wonder about and beauty to wonder at.

Science is important because it is part of the honourable quest that is the search for truth and knowledge

Science is important because it reveals our ignorance and humbles us, even the most intelligent and the most powerful.

Science is important because when adults do science we recreate within ourselves the sense of awe and mystery we had when we were children.

Science is important because it encourages us to question authority and provides a means for doing so.

Science is important because it requires free exchange of ideas and information - it is incompatible with tyranny and so reduces tyranny.

Science is important because it grounds us in reality - it can challenge us and force us to change our minds.

Science is important because it helps us understand our place in the world, but more importantly it helps us actualize that place, both as human beings and as individuals.


  1. Posted December 28, 2009 at 1:54 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Psychology is often defined as "The science that deals with mental processes and behavior".

    In the modern day, there are basically two prevailing schools of thought. 'Geneticists' and 'Behaviorists'... the old notion of "nature vs nurture."

    The Geneticists are inclined to think that human behavior is derived from heredity and instinct. Often on the news, reports detail how some study claims to find the 'genetic predisposition' 'to being republican' or 'smoking cigarettes'. This supports the world view that we are 'hardwired' in some way and that even subtle nuances of behavior, such as an inclination for addiction, is genetic or "instinctual" in some way.

    The Behaviorists, on the other hand, see the human being as a product of conditioning, as based on the environmental exposure of that person. Therefore, the actions of a person have a source that is derived from experience or a triggered train of thought, brought on by a learned understanding. The mechanism of action/belief therefore is sourced in learning, not heredity or instinct.

    Which is more relevant? Obviously, both views are relevant in certain ways. Our interest in surviving and reproducing is imprinted/genetic in some way, as it is directly associated with fundamental survival. However, the means by which survival is obtained is entirely based on the social conditioning of that person. If a person grows up in a scarce, poverty stricken environment, with limited access to employment, they will have more of a propensity to engage in illegal activity to survive... more so, then say a middle class person who has basic needs met.

    On the other side of the spectrum, if a person with great wealth has grown up in an elitist family and is thus conditioned into thinking that his or her wealth/class serves as a status symbol, they might often exploit those who work for them or perform illegal activities to conform to the identity and social arrogance they think is real.

    The bottom line is that it is environmental conditioning that really affects 99% of our actions, and all diligent behavior studies have proven this time and time again.

    People become alcoholics not because they have a genetic predisposition, but because of the influence of their parents or friends. If you abuse a child, very often they grow up to abuse other children. When the mass media promotes a certain idea in society, such as "terrorism", the public is conditioned into believing this is true and a real threat, regardless of reality. The fact is, we are emergent, vulnerable organisms and always undergoing influence, conditioning and change to a certain degree.

    That 'degree' is largely influenced by the social/ideological identifications which many have been conditioned to think are immutable. This particular state of awareness is where paralysis comes in, for there is nothing in nature to support the conclusion that anything we think about today will not be outdated in the future, for one of the few patterns we can stand behind with a certain degree of confidence(so far) is the reality that all elements of nature are emergent. The 'identification' with a set understandings for the sake of ones integrity is a serious distortion in our world, for it is considered a 'weakness' when a person is proven wrong. This is, of course, absurd, for to be proven wrong is how most learn and it should not be a feared circumstance.

    Fritz Pearls once said that "The human species is the only species that has the ability to interfere with their own growth". This is an important understanding, for our belief systems, which we think we must keep to support our identities, often stand in the way of new, changing understandings and personal growth.

    The most dominant institutions which perpetuate this paralysis seem to be Theistic Religion and The Monetary System. Theistic religion promotes a fixed world view, with a "faith" based understanding that rejects logic and new information. The Monetary System ( in all countries) is based on Competition for Labor and thus Labor for Money. Very simply, the "competitive edge" can only be sustained through self-perpetuation, and self-perpetuation/self interest naturally leads to a static institution which prefers not to change, for it threatens the survival of that business, government or the like.

  2. maryrose
    Posted June 15, 2010 at 11:38 AM | Permalink | Reply

    nice doing

  3. bitrus joseph
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 11:39 AM | Permalink | Reply

    i concur

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  1. By nemo on December 16, 2009 at 1:57 AM

    nemo's status on Wednesday, 16-Dec-09 02:00:42 UTC… ……

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