But now the reissued Sleepwalkers come with an Introduction by John Gray in which he praises Koestler for showing that great science does not proceed by “scientific method” and attacks Richard Dawkins and other scientific proselytizers s for advocating “If only we apply scientific method to our problems, the world can be immeasurably improved”.
This is seriously misleading. Dawkins and others are not suggested that the masses should practice “scientific method” but that they should pay heed to scientific evidence. Dawkins’ book The Evidence for Evolution is a good example.
Non scientists will never be able to devise research strategies to find the nature of dark matter or to synthesis a drug that can overcome bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Ordinary people do though possess the ability to understand and respect evidence. That is why juries are composed of 12 such people.
Dawkins in particular and many others like him are concerned about the 40% or so of Americans who consistently deny the facts of evolution and the even greater percentage who deny anthropogenic global warming. You don’t have to be able to sequence a genome to recognise that the remarkable base-for-DNA-base similarity between the human and the chimp genome is telling us something. Or that every organism on earth, from a bacterium to us uses the same genetic code and the same metabolic machinery.
The road to a great discovery may be an error-strewn drunkard’s walk but the result is a piece of elegant machinery that everyone ought to be able to understand. Read James Watson’s The Double Helix and compare the sordid tale of personal rivalry, arrant sexism, error and skulduggery with the beautiful image of the DNA double helix and the wonderful single page paper describing the structure in Nature.
John Gray’s confusion of scientific method and evidence is deeply damaging to the human understanding of science and to the progress of humankind generally.