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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