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The Role of Science

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Science is the best tool ever devised for understanding how the world works.(1) Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known.(2) Science is a collaborative enterprise, spanning the generations. We remember those who prepared the way, seeing through them also.(3) If you're scientifically literate, the world looks very different to you. And that understanding empowers you.(4) There's real poetry in the real world. Science is the poetry of reality.(5) We can do science, and with it, we improve our lives.(3)

The story of humans is the story of ideas, that shines light into dark corners.(6) Scientists love mysteries; they love not knowing!(7) I don't feel frightened by not knowing things. I think it's much more interesting!(8) There's a larger universal reality of which we are all a part.(9) The further we probe into the universe, the more remarkable are the discoveries we make.(10) The quest for the truth, in and of itself, is a story that's filled with insight.(11)

From our lonely point in the cosmos, we have, through the power of thought, been able to peer back to a brief moment, at the beginning of the universe!(9) I think that science changes the way the mind works; to think a little bit more deeply about things.(12) Science replaces private prejudice, with publicly verifiable evidence.(5)

I think that video really sums up the relationship between science and skepticism pretty well. Science and skepticism are intertwined, integral to each other. The very principles of science are founded on skepticism - that is, rational inquiry. Science is a process and a tool for learning about the world around us, and within us. That requires, by definition, inquiry. Science is inherently fueled by curiosity and inquiry. On the flip side, skepticism relies on the rigorous standards of science to provide those answers that skepticism is inquiring about. The process of science reduces human bias and limitation, to best find those answers to which we are inquiring.

The Scientific Method:

  1. Ask a question
  2. Research
  3. Form a hypothesis
  4. Experiment
  5. Analyze data
  6. Draw conclusions
  7. Publish results
  8. Peer review & retest by others
  9. Establish a theory

This is the order of events in science. Most people get this wrong. Many people think that step 3, or even step 1 is "establish a theory". In common parlance, a "theory" means a guess. But in science, it means a fact. A scientific theory is a complex and robust explanation that includes a collection of evidence, observations, inferences, hypotheses, and laws. A theory explains what something is, it is not a guess about what something might be. A law is generally considered to be true and universal, and can often be expressed as a single mathematical equation, and it describes a single action. But a theory explains an entire group of related phenomena and encompasses one or more laws. If each law is considered to be true and universal, then a theory, which is an explanation that encompasses that law, is also considered to be true and universal. A theory is the end result, the goal, in science, not the beginning or the guess.


Eugenie Scott explains what a scientific theory is.


Eugenie Scott explains facts, laws, and scientific theories.


The Scientific Method Made Easy

The role of science in skepticism is a very important one. They are inextricably intwined. Science is formalized, rigorous, skepticism. It is a process designed to inquire about the universe around us in such a way as to reduce and limit human bias. It is the process and the tool that skeptics rely on to get accurate answers, and it requires skepticism, or rational inquiry, in order to exist. Skepticism is the curiosity that asks the questions, and science is the tool that answers them.

Bibliography:

  1. Michael Shermer - Skeptic Magazine
  2. Jacob Bronkowski - mathematician, biologist, poet
  3. Carl Sagan - astronomer, astrophysicist
  4. Neil deGrasse Tyson - astrophysicist
  5. Richard Dawkins - biologist, ethologist
  6. Jill Tarter -
  7. Lawrence Krauss - theoretical physicist
  8. Richard Feynman - quantum physicist
  9. Brian Greene - theoretical physicist
  10. Stephen Hawking - theoretical physicist
  11. Carolyn Porco - planetary scientist
  12. PZ Myers - biologist, blogger

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