What is known about the many strains of cancer?
Through NS we can observe the development of knowledge and the extent to which scientists are confident with that knowledge. This includes one of the largest areas of scientific research today: oncology and the study of cancer. From as early as the 18th century, scientists began to investigate death and what could be the cause. People will no doubt have died from cancer for many years; before anyone knew anything about it, or it had been given a name, cancer as a disease was unknown. Today, however, we know that there are over a hundred different strains of cancer, some more potent and critical than others. What is so interesting about oncology is that as research continues into the causes, prevention and treatment of cancer, more strains come to light every day. The discovery of new strains has to have come about through research by those who are able to formulate research that expands our knowledge. As recently as 2016, a study conducted by Glasgow University found that pancreatic cancer is in fact four separate diseases. This provides strong evidence in support of the essay question, otherwise why else are scientists still researching the strains of cancer which have been known since 1761?. Even Einstein remarked “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Using reason, we must accept that knowledge raises more questions and we are indeed less confident when we are aware of the possibility of more, deeper knowledge, not to mention how some people dedicate their lives in the pursuit of more robust scientific knowledge. Thus, imagination and reason have shown that knowledge does increase doubt.
However, in contrast, some areas of science do have limits and so when we claim that increased knowledge in turn increases doubt, we should also question whether there is in fact a finality to some aspects of knowledge. For example, we can indeed be confident in the knowledge that the Earth revolves around the Sun in its elliptical orbit. We are ‘confident’ with this fact as a result of an accumulation of evidence throughout the history of NS.