Science

The significance of science is inescapable in our world. From cell phones to recycling to medical treatments, the accumulated advances in science construct the backbone of our way of life. Advances in technology are transforming the world and understanding science will be a necessity for the competitiveness of future generations. In fact, science is essential to both the long-term survival and fulfilled potential of our species.

There is an amazing sense of awe one feels when contemplating the accomplishments of humanity through science. This ongoing endeavor has helped us understand the causes of infections disease; it takes man to the surface of the moon and back; it helps us understand and perhaps even harness the power of the stars. We continue to seek to understand our world and find ways to flourish without harming ourselves or the planet we inhabit. Through astronomy, physic, and geology we have come to make some sense of the world. Science has put us in contact with the grand scale of the universe. Through biology, psychology and anthropology we have come to understand ourselves better and our origins as a species.

“Science is a powerful expression of two of the defining qualities of humans – creativity and curiosity” – Ray Mathias

The Scientific Method

Science is both knowledge and a method of seeking knowledge about the natural world. A question or simple observation about the world leads to a hypothesis that must go through the scientific method before becoming a valid theory. This weeds out mistakes, errors or personal bias as best as possible. Further testing and evidence can then move a scientific theory to acknowledged fact, like the theory of continental drift or the theory of gravity. The process usually follows these steps:

  1. Define the question
  2. Gather information and observations
  3. Form a hypothesis to answer the question
  4. Perform experiment to test the hypothesis and collect data
  5. Analyze data
  6. Interpret data and draw conclusions to confirm or change hypothesis
  7. Publish results for peer review
  8. Retest (frequently done by other scientists)

The use of the scientific method ensures that scientists constantly try to prove themselves wrong. Science is pretty much the only field where being proven wrong is highly welcomed and encourage. To establish credibility, experiments must be testable and reproducible by other scientists objectively.

Opposition to Science

Unfortunately, there is a growing culture of distrust in the United States that seeks to undermine science. Interests such as religious groups or large corporations often try to circumvent the scientific method and perpetuate doubt and confusion in society. These efforts to serve special interest and viewpoints incompatible with modern knowledge and current evidence are detrimental for several reasons.

  • It undermines our educational system. A recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) global study of educational systems ranks the US 15-year-olds as 17th in the world in science education. Combine that with frequent efforts to supplant scientific teaching of evolution with creationism and we have a young population being left behind.
  • It divides our society unnecessarily. When groups claim that the science of climate change is a complete hoax based off select errors or misconduct of a few scientists they undermine society’s very confidence in reason. Positions of fact devolve into matters of opinion and political parties begin to align themselves behind incompatible world views.
  • It robs us of our highest nature. People need to develop an ability to question things and think for themselves. They should be able to evaluate evidence and learn about the world free from dogma and misdirection.

Ultimately science is not just collection of facts and figures, but a remarkable way of thinking. As Virgil once said, “Happy is he who gets to know the reasons for things.” To learn more about why science is important please visit: http://whyscience.co.uk/

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