Letter: `Laws' of science

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The Independent Culture
Sir: David Packham speaks true. As one FRS recently told me: "I have long taken the view that all our theories, including new ones, are wrong; it is merely that we do not yet know how or by how much."

Lewis Wolpert ("The sociologists of science should shut up", 2 July) says sociologists claim that science is "little more" than a social construct, yet he admits that "science is obviously a social process"; the resolution of controversies, the acceptance of "more evidence and better theories" and the establishment and maintenance of consensus all fall under that rubric.

Sociologists pay careful attention to the (social) processes of classification and the interpretation of evidence, and their emphasis on the central role of instrumentation and experimental data in the evolution of scientific beliefs signals at least one clear way in which they take science to be different from any other beliefs. But even well-established scientific orthodoxy can be challenged. A robust "social construct" is the nearest we can ever get to a useful grasp of the (always hidden) "laws of nature". What's the alternative?