English language article : Science doesn’t have all the answers!

As a voice researcher and teacher of an evidence-based approach to vocal technique, this is a statement I hear a lot (mainly from people who feel a bit attacked by what I’m saying, but don’t have any proof to support their own ideas). Usually when someone says it, lots of other similarly touchy people nod their heads sagely. I get it. Cognitive dissonance is a real thing and it’s uncomfortable when your ideas are challenged. 

However, this is a rubbish response. Properly rubbish. For the following four reasons.

1 : It presupposes that science actually makes the claim to have all the answers
Scientists do not make this claim at all. Science is fully aware that it doesn’t have all the answers - that’s the primary motivator of any scientist worth their salt - to find out new stuff. If we thought we knew everything there was to know, we’d stop all the sciencing and have a lovely cup of tea (glass of wine) and a bit of a rest (three chocolate éclairs)...

2 : It implies that because science doesn’t have all the answers, it is untrustworthy
This is a basic error in reasoning, of course and makes no sense. Accepting that science does not have all the answers is not the same thing as saying it doesn’t have any of the answers. The very point of a scientific approach to vocal technique is that we only teach the bits that we do have the answers for. Those answers may evolve and refine over time as we learn new things, but we don’t teach anything we can’t substantially back up.

3 : It shows that some people are threatened by evidence and proof
They assume that because we show evidence of something, we are saying that this is the only way to understand / do something. This is not the case. Science does not require you to be wrong for it to be right. It just requires you to back up your claims in order to be taken seriously - that’s all. If your claim is different to mine, but you can back it up, that’s fine. It’s more than fine, it’s fascinating - let’s have a discussion and we both might learn something!

(However, ‘this is how it’s done in *insert exotic country here*’ is not the same thing as proof. Human beings love a bit of mysticism, but it has to come from very far away to be worth consideration - no one seems interested in uncovering the ancient wisdom of Chipping Sodbury.)

4 : It is usually being said by somebody with something to defend (sell)
Usually a wildly unscientific or irrational proposition (“you have to breathe into your feet to get a true singing breath” or some other bollocks). The implication is that because science doesn’t know everything, whatever nonesense they are spouting is thereby validated. However, science being evidence based, with rigor and proof required, it is still statistically more likely to be right than what is essentially just guessing or making shit up.

Science doesn’t have all the answers - it’s true! But just because it still has some blanks doesn’t mean you get to fill them in with whatever new age knobbery takes your fancy !

Ask for evidence of what’s being presented to you as fact - people should be able to provide it, or point you to someone who can.

Now, I’m off to do something spiritual (that’s a lie. I’m on a train drinking coffee and eating biscuits.)


Allan Wright, August 2019

Cours de chantFormations

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