The Value of the Scientific Method

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We all remember learning the scientific method in grade school.  From hypotheses to theories, much of what we know about our world today has stemmed from using the scientific method.  So, it may surprise you that many people no longer trust the scientific method or science in general as a source for the answers they seek.  There are many conflicting opinions about issues such as climate change and the possible negative effects of vaccines.

However, I am not writing this post to debate these issues.  My purpose is to convince you that while science cannot prove everything or solve every problem, it still deserves a prominent role in resolving our plentiful and diverse problems.  How can stand up for science?  I have two suggestions based upon David Biello’s article.  First, we need to cultivate curiosity and second, we need to accept that we may be wrong.

But before I explain these suggestions, let’s discuss why science is under attack (and why it needs to be protected) in the first place.  Unbeknownst to most Americans, our leaders often misuse their power to achieve their personal goals and agendas.  They usually don’t care if their agenda violates the people’s needs (or rights).  Politicians will just cover up their evil deeds with propaganda.  Now, I acknowledge this sounds very “paranoid” or “cynical”.  However, that doesn’t stop it from being true.  In fact, politicians are perhaps the biggest culprits of decreasing the value of the scientific method.

According to David Biello, denying scientific discoveries, “…can sometimes kill, whether it’s the children who succumb to preventable diseases or the human lives cut short by climate change–related extreme weather or polluted air from burning fossil fuels.”

The scientific method is based upon using facts to prove a hypothesis right or wrong.  But, when the facts are no longer reliable (because, for example, people make up facts such as propaganda in the media) there are little to no facts that can be used to discover the truth.  In other words, when anyone can make up the facts, they cease being facts.

Therefore, in order to protect the scientific method and science as a respected field, we need to protect the validity of facts.  We can do this by first, sparking curiosity.  It may seem like a simple thing, but curiosity about how and why the world works the way it does would make a BIG difference.  Imagine if the rising generation (and even adults) actually cared about understanding politics.  What would our world be like if people acted upon their newly-found knowledge and understanding?

The second way to protect science is to promote a scientific world-view.  Learning to accept that you might be wrong is a critical scientific and life skill.  Biello says, “The price of a scientific worldview means enduring some level of uncertainty, a heaping dose of humility, and engaging in the never-ending, everyday task of living your life in light of scientific findings. Such evidence-based decision-making is what makes science political.”

When we learn to base our decisions on real evidence, the true value of science and the scientific method will be revealed.  Until then, propaganda and “convenient” truths will continue to plague our society and the media.  Remember this post the next time you come across a questionable article.  Because “facts” are not always facts.

 

Further Reading: http://ideas.ted.com/the-quiet-war-on-science/

 

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Got Brain Cells?

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Everyone knows that regular exercise helps promote physical fitness.  But what about mental fitness?  According to Dr. John J. Ratey, exercise affects the brain more than we realized.  He says exercise can, “…supercharge your mental circuits to beat stress, sharpen your thinking, lift your mood, boost your memory, and much more.” 1*  If you think that is cool, wait until you hear about some of the long-term benefits of exercise.

In his book entitled, “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”, Dr. Ratey explains that in addition to these short-term benefits, regular exercise causes the brain to produce a protein called BDNF, which stimulates neurogenesis (brain cell growth).  Regular exercise literally makes your brain grow!  If that’s not motivation to go to the gym, I don’t know what it is.

I do know that despite the crazy benefits of working out, life gets in the way of your self care goals such as exercising and eating healthily.  So, here are some small tricks and tips to help you live healthily. They might seem simple, but, if implemented, they will help you become healthier.

  1. I always like to say, “If you don’t buy it, you won’t eat it.”  The next time you go to grocery store, think twice before buying sugary or unhealthy food products.
  2.  When exercising, pick something that you actually like!  Your options may seem limited to running and weight lifting– Not so!  Consider sports like swimming, tennis, soccer, or basketball.  How about riding your bike in the summer or going skiing in the winter?  Yoga or karate are also great options.  Anything that gets your heart rate up will do. 🙂
  3. Keeping a food journal will also help you be accountable for what you eat.  You may even find holes in your diet.  Perhaps you need to eat more fruits or vegetables or maybe you find yourself eating too much bread or starch.  A food journal is a great way to encourage healthy eating.
  4. Perhaps trying goal apps such as Habitica will help you be accountable to yourself.  The more habits you continue doing, the more “points” or rewards you will get.
  5. For both healthy eating and exercising, rewarding yourself will help you achieve your goals.  For example, after reaching your exercising and diet goals you can allow yourself to watch your favorite TV show or spend some time reading a book.  The important thing is that these rewards only come after you accomplish your goals.

So, the next time you are tempted to have some Oreos or to not go for your weekly tennis match, remember the benefits and tips above.  But, more importantly, remember the real reason you are trying to be healthy: to live a happy life!  More brain cells and smaller waistline are just extra benefits (nice ones, though 😉

Masks

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I stumbled upon a poem the other day and it really stood out to me.  It is entitled, “Masks”.

She had blue skin, and so did he. He kept it hid and so did she.  They searched for blue their whole life through, Then passed right be– and never knew.

We are all different: from our views on politics and life experiences to our cultural backgrounds.  However, if we spent more time looking for similarities instead of differences, me might be less inclined to don our ‘masks’ every day.  These ‘masks’ hide who we really are.  They hide our quirky personalities, our senses of humor and prevent people from seeing us from the inside out.

Cultural pressures (especially the media) encourage girls and boys from a very young age that they need this product or this mass body index in order to be “beautiful” and “popular”.  We try to mask our imperfections and differences because we are told that these are to be avoided at all costs.  The truth is, beauty does not come from the outside: it comes from within.

Roald Dahl once said, “If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”  I know this is true.  If we spent as much time on developing our inner qualities as we did on perfecting our outer appearances, imagine how truly beautiful we would all be!  Instead of perfecting our ‘masks’, let us not be ashamed of who we truly are.  Be yourself!  And look for others who have taken their masks off, and are proud to be themselves: not because they are pretty or have conformed to cultural or social norms.  But because they are working on beautifying their thoughts, actions, and life.  This is what makes people truly beautiful, and their inner goodness will always show.

 

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