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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 2, No. 18. September 20, 1939

Application of Scientific Method

Application of Scientific Method.

Dr. Millikan speaks quietly and surely, with utter reason. He gives the impression that he has established for himself a set of values reasonably proportioned, and—rather disquletingly—the suspicion arises that these proportions differ from our own and those of the university students around us. He pointed out clearly one major reason why the world and society has gone astray—its neglect to consult the specialist to solve a specific problem. In his lecture to the general public, Dr. Millikan made the statement—"In physics, as in other sciences, there is established a zone or core of fundamental knowledge around which new knowledge is continually being accumulated," This "core of fundamentals" constitutes the laws of gravity, force, friction, etc., on which are based the theory of our gravitational machines and Indeed all the machines which have helped to build up our modern civilisation. He stated that these laws were complete non-controversial facts and were the result of getting and adding to the accumulated knowledge of science.

In the past this has not been done in social, economic, and political problems. Our politicians and statesmen are not going back into the past history of the race to learn the cause and results of certain actions. Today we have men and women in the leading positions of our community who have not had the required education and experience for the positions which they hold. They have not the ability and foresight to change their outlook at the correct time—they are content to move along in the same short-sighted and pigheaded fashion and refuse to consider any change of affairs or government which might be contrary to their views; thus the vast majority of the people are not reaping the benefits of the advanced scientific and political thought of today. The views of competent authorities are nearly always correct Let us take an example in science. We have a certain number of leading scientists agreeing about some law, hence ninety-nine times out of a hundred it is correct and accepted as correct, because they have used all the results of their research into the background of the data governing the problem as a basis for its statement. Hence we must have our leaders educated in their own particular field and have them look back into past history so that they can, by statistical and historical processes, proceed to analyse and find the solution of the problem. At the present moment the social, economic and political problems are not being solved at all. All that is being done in these fields is being done in a haphazard fashion. A certain problem in economics arises, a law is passed which temporarily solves the problem, but out of which new problems and difficulties arise, the whole procedure is again repeated and so on ad infinitum. This is not the manner In which true progress is made. True progress does not come from the radicals or the reactionaries, but from those individuals who have the ability and foresight to see that the problem will arise and so bring about some ruling to prevent it from arising.