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Rights: The University of Waikato
Published 29 July 2008 Referencing Hub media
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Associate Professor Rod Dunbar (University of Auckland) discusses science research as a collective rather than a solitary endeavour and looks at the myth of truth in science.

Transcript

DR ROD DUNBAR
Science can't exist without interactions between people. There are some fields of science where you can be successful with pure thought. Einstein was largely working on his own, based on conversations with other people, obviously. But, in general, science these days is intensely social, and particularly in the work that I do, I meet hundreds of people per week and talk to an awful lot of people about scientific endeavours.

And one of the great things about science is that, to understand it, you have to understand the kinds of personalities that are driving the science. I think, again, people think that science is absolutely dispassionate, and that we only chase the thing that is true. We know from a lot of philosophical studies that the definition of truth is problematic, and in science, we recognise that many of the things that we say are absolutely true today are not absolutely true tomorrow. In modern science, we don't tend to talk about whether something is true, we talk about whether something fits a model or gives us the capacity to move forward with a particular therapy.