There is a difference between negotiating and finding out how things are, if you see what I mean.

The latter is a common habit among people who relate to science. I
think it goes for scientists too, and not only natural scientists. These are
two different ways of communicating, down to everyday conversations.

Of course, both ways of thinking may be used by anyone, but sometimes they belong in different worlds and sometimes they collide.

It is pretty important to know the difference, because, sometimes you may think that a sentence is a move in, well, a negotiation, you give this and I take that, and it is actually something completely different, it is an attempt to make common ground, find thoughts, views that both parts believe or could believe is right.

This is a big difference in the way people communicate with each other.

I mean, actually, we don’t always share the same views on reality.

It is obvious that political views differ, but this is very often about what to do. This is important, but equally important is to agree on what the world is like, quite simply. And this is not always so easy, either.

But it is, I think, what all branches of science do all the time. There are discussions going on in this world too, and there are certain things that practically everyone agrees on, but a scientist, I believe, is seeking the truth, about the world, to put it very basically.

You can’t start a research project with a conclusion. You have to be totally open and then use a scientific method that can be inspected and accepted, and in the end you see the result. Everybody must be able to check what you did and how you think, which is, of course, not always easy if you’re on the outside of science, because knowledge can be very specialised.

But the principles remain.

You must have a notion of how things are beforehand, a question to be answered, a hypothesis, but you have to accept the result as it comes out of your work. If you meddle with that you’re thrown out of the scientific community.

So…when you talk not only to scientists, but to anyone connected with science, natural science or the humanities, you enter a world of connected knowledge, where you have a feeling of coherence, that you can’t just move one piece of the building of knowledge without knowing and saying why you do it. There isn’t agreement on everything, because everyone is also entitled to have opinions, but they are supposed to be based on something, and pretty often this something is science.

If you say this to a researcher you may sometimes get the reply that there is also madness in his or her world, but that is just humour or a comment on a high level of knowledge. If you actually start smashing what they consider basics, they will attack you.

And with good reason.

Of course you can live without science, but if what the scientists have found out is true, you live with that truth whether you know it or not.

So, if you don’t know much about the scientific world, and do or say things that go against truth as they see it, against this way of dealing with reality, they will get mad. After all, this search for the truth about all sorts of things
has been going for thousands of years – and is actually a foundation for a lot
of things. Knowledge about how things are, and of course also about how to do things, like constructing a bridge or helping a psychiatric patient – and why you do those things in a specific way.

And this used to be seen as the foundation not only of the scientific community, but connected to the political one too. Even if it didn’t and doesn’t always work that way, it has been held as a truth by many that politics should build also on science, not only on fighting for yourself or the group that you advocate.

I have never been a negotiator, but I believe it is common to be a little rough, and I guess what both parties want to achieve is a framework for action.

I am not a scientist either, but I grew up with science, and I think it is right to say that when dealing with problems in this way in everyday life, what you try to find is a framework for knowledge. Then you can easier find out what to do. What is the problem? is the basic question – and when you have agreed on that, found it out, you may easier know what to do.

A framework for knowledge, which is a basis for action.

A mix of these two ways of thinking is probably common. I may be wrong or inaccurate in some of the things I say about science, but I believe those are two pretty basic ways of communicating. What is the problem? in the second case, and How do we deal with this? in the first.

Because, if you take for granted that everyone knows what the problem is, you may be in trouble, for that may not be true. Of course it may happen that you’re right about things even if you speak and think very simple, but pretty often there is real disagreement on things, and not only on the surface. Then anyone may have to think again.

Simple truths in science are sometimes looked upon as ingenious, but only if they connect well with reality. In politics both truths and actions also have to connect with reality, and with humanity too, to be really appreciated as good and useful things.