Bell, Eric Temple. Debunking Science. Seattle, Washington: The University of Washington

 

Bell, Eric Temple. Debunking Science. Seattle, Washington: The University of Washington
Book Store, 1930. (Alternatively, University of Washington Chapbooks, 1930.)

This tiny essay is worth reading and careful rereading. It is a mathematician's sensible statement
of the confusion reigning in science: if there are experts who disagree, why place absolute faith in
any of them? There is disagreement galore in science! Bell, here, points at the finitists and the
intuitionists who have sought, fruitlessly and in opposite directions, to solve the basic paradoxes
of mathematics. Of course, they have not been able to solve them; that's what is interesting about
paradoxes. It is the existence of their disagreements, the persistence of their efforts to
demonstrate that mathematics is without paradoxes, that is the focus of this book. Since science
has failed to resolve these paradoxes, the layman who continues to look for certainty in science is
foolish. Certainty does not exist in science!

"The work of debunking science - of finding out exactly how much we can safely trust - has
begun in the revision of mathematics by those who call themselves finitists and intuitionists. The
first tentative raids are already evident in other sciences, notably physics. To some, the outcome
in mathematics will seem devastating and utterly destructive of all faith in anything. These are as
mistaken as were those who pinned their all to the belief in witchcraft. Never yet has the excision
of error destroyed anything that were not better out of the way..." (pp. 39-40)