"I personally accept the fact that it's really status that motivates me, and think to myself "it's better to do the right thing for the wrong reasons than not to do the right thing at all!"."
I think it's a bit sad that status is one of the strongest motivators in discovery (and work in general). If it's not discovery/knowledge that you genuinely aim for, you might e.g. refuse to hire a new promising researcher/ purposely withhold information/ start to make all kinds of political plots etc.. I'd hope ppl would honestly think about their motivations. Is the status/power you're after just a method of achieving something else etc.?
"Physics could at some point be completely solved, which is to say that at some point, there would be no further knowledge that would ever allow us to do anything new, to make any better a prediction, to do anything more efficiently, etc."
It seems to me that ppl have a tendency to overstate their knowledge. What does a slug know about physics? Respectively, what does a human know about (possible) 101th dimension or travel through time or any of the stuff some posthuman might do "physics" about.
"If you had to undergo a fearsome initiation ritual to be told the truth about evolution, maybe people would be more satisfied with the answer."
Sounds cool, im thinking of some sort of camp maybe ;)
Seriously, looking at the many cases of bitter competition in the history of science makes me think that status at least has been an important motivator of discovery. E.g Newton vs. Leibniz & also cases where there actually was a disagreement about the correct theory..
Fascinating points. However, it seems to me that the underlaying definition of "real" (which is a bit unclear) is not satisfying in an ontological sense. Do mean that our models/patterns fitted on observations are somehow real?
Maybe if a thing is a part of a pattern it is less interesting than before we found this particular pattern. OTOH, the pattern maybe more interesting than separate things. In any case, it is unclear to me in what sense this pattern is "real".
"I believe science teaches us that human-caused global warming is an urgent crisis."
"You mean if it's either not a problem or can be fixed easily, it proves science is false?"
Science has been proved false many times. Those things proven to be false are no longer science. OTOH most religious beliefs are dogmatic. They can't be discarded from that religion without divine intervention/prophecy.