"Facts" and Facts

Tue, 5 Dec 1995 14:01:17 CST

E. Scott used quotation marks when she wrote that it was once a "fact"
that humans have 48 chromosomes. In G. Laden's remarks, however, the
quotation marks disappear so that we have him talking about the
relativity of facts, not of "facts." I hope he does not think it was
once a fact that we had 48 chromosomes, or that it was once a fact that
Earth was flat. People once believed these"facts," but we no longer
do--and for some very good reasons, I might add! Science is an ongoing
interaction between evidence and reason. It doesn't give us ultimate
truth, because the last word is never in; but there is such a thing as
progress, so that in some cases we have been able to replace "facts,"
such as Earth's being flat and humans having 48 chromosomes, with
*facts*. To argue otherwise deteriorates rapidly into the hypocrisy of
academic nihilism, as with the postmodern professors who claim to
believe science is nothing special until they or their loved ones take
ill--at which time they behave precisely as if they believed scientific
medicine had progressed over older beliefs and practices. --Bob Graber