The article in question dwells upon the essence of the so-called scientific method as understood in the United States and the rest of the contemporary world. Hollinger provides insight into the way this idea developed between the 1940s and 1960s (441). The author notes that the cluster or even opposition of different ideologies enabled U.S. society to come up with the scientific method as people understand it now.
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Interestingly, general societal views were very different in the middle of the twentieth century. Prejudice, the pursuit of particular goals, and bias were quite typical of both society in general and particular individual spheres like the academic world during that time. The Second World War significantly shaped the way people viewed their goals and aspirations.
First of all, the author successfully draws the reader’s attention to the meaning of the word “scientific” and traces the evolution of this idea. This part of the article makes everyone consider the way they themselves see the “scientific” approach. At present, people admit that just conducting any experiment in any way cannot be the essence of the scientific method. Instead, it it essential to conduct the research in adherence to some specific principles and values.
The researcher has to be precise and careful, ethical and open. It is vital to make sure that the researcher’s personality, experiences, and views do not affect the findings in any way. All the relevant data should be provided, irrespective of their consistency with certain ideologies or conventions. Ultimately, the truth is the primary goal of any research.
The author’s argument concerning the interaction of religions (Catholicism and Protestantism) and ideologies (communism, fascism and democracy) is eye-opening. By making this argument, it becomes clear why people chose to focus on the importance of knowledge and morality in research. Decades of authoritarian rule—such as the regimes in Germany, the USSR, Spain, and Italy—were regarded as illustrations of the need to mobilize and use all possible means to oppose those ideologies. In the United States, society, which proclaimed itself a democratic one, did not quite tolerate views that were different from the accepted ones (Hollinger 443). Segregation was not confined to African Americans, and the dominance of Americans of Anglo-Saxon descent was apparent in all spheres of life. The author makes it clear that the horrible crimes committed in the name of ideology as well as the hypocrisy of religions encouraged people to seek pure science and truth. Scholars understood that the absence of bias and the reign of pluralism could be seen as the key to success.
When reading the article, it might seem that Jews are regarded as the central ethnicity, the people who most contributed to the development of the scientific approach. The author stresses that the fact that Jews were allowed into science, art, and technology (and by extension, American culture as a whole) was one of the most important milestones in the development of the new paradigm.
Though Jewish scientists and scholars certainly did not exclusively come up with the innovations that advanced the scientific sphere, it is clear that the case of a single ethnicity paved the way to a new attitude and paradigm in the scientific world—one that transcended all other social, political, and cultural spheres. The fact that Jews were allowed into the scientific world created a valuable precedent that showed both the negative effects of any kind of bias and the benefits of plurality and transparency. Indeed, the scientific world started to become less biased and more open. This openness embraced many aspects, including the adoption of new ways and strategies and tolerance towards different groups of people in terms of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and so on.
At the same time, the author seems to exaggerate the victories of the new scientific approach. Of course, after the 1960s, American society did become more open and inclusive; nonetheless, after the 1960s and up until the present, there has still existed a lot of bias toward women. To this day, many women are still struggling to prove their right to participate in the scientific world. Furthermore, various conventions still prevented scholars and scientists from being truly objective and scientific in the sense developed in the middle of the twentieth century. Thus, scholars and scientists had to choose between their moral values or beliefs and the truth unveiled during their research. More so, the struggle of values, conventions, and scientific principles still persists.
This article brings to the fore several ideas concerning contemporary society. At present, some people may forget about the importance of remaining ethical in research. Though the scientific method is still an ideal that many try to follow, it is not as valued as it used to be. One of the reasons for that devaluation is the general stability in Western society.
Ironically, because people are not as anxious about the looming threat of an ideology and because they are free to express their views, they are rather careless and can contribute to the creation of more authoritarian ideologies if they try to adjust their findings to the existing conventions. People have become accustomed to living in the world of the scientific paradigm. They do not know what life could be like without the standard of compliance with the values of the scientific approach. Therefore, it is important to make sure that this article is revisited by people around the world and that Americans (especially young people) start a lasting debate on the matter.
Another important idea that is discussed in the article is concerned with the threat of reliance on a particular ideology. The modern world is becoming quite polarized again. Of course, communism and fascism are unlikely to gain the same power as they had in the first part of the twentieth century. However, certain ideologies may entice people away from pursuing a truly scientific method. Indeed, researchers may try to slightly adjust their findings to fit the existing conventions, disregarding the truth. This seems to be the first step towards the rigid and closed world that existed in the 1940s. It is necessary to remember that the adherence to the principles of the scientific approach in all aspects of human life can help American society preserve its democratic ideology.
In conclusion, this article is a valuable resource to be discussed in establishments of higher education and other settings. The author explains how the contemporary scientific approach was developed by revealing that the background of this currently accepted paradigm is deeply rooted in the struggle of different ideologies. The modern scientific world is supported by rules and values that include transparency, reliability, and credibility. When modern people start violating these principles, it can lead to significant adverse effects. Hence, it is essential to turn back to the debate of the scientific approach and its origins, as this will facilitate the adherence to the values of the scientific paradigm.
Hollinger, David A. “Science as a Weapon in Kulturkampfe in the United States During and After World War II”. Isis 86.3 (1995): 440-454. Print.