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What is "science?"

Posted March 6, 2014 by dustproduction in Open

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commented on Nov. 5, 2014
by dustproduction



How many times have we seen comments posted here that bash science?
It has been pointed out time and time again that "science" is what the "S" in IONS states for but that doesn't seem to stop the science haters.
I will offer this is due to the fact that most people have only and elementary understanding of the sciences. This essay, and the discussion, is not for targeted at those people. They are free to comment at some other discussion, but I welcome, encourage them to read the essay.

The following is a from a talk given by Jeff Tsao at the Santa Fe Institute:

Science, of course, is first and foremost the ideas that humanity uses to understand and control the world around it. But science, secondly, is the human social community in which those ideas exist and which has, at least for the time being, conquered the earth. Perhaps most importantly, science is widely viewed as key to humanity’s future: how we fix our energy and environment problems, and how we innovate to mitigate various “gathering storms.” Indeed, as some of you may know, the National Science Foundation is in the fifth year of a major program aimed at creating a science of science policy and ultimately at engineering an improved system of science.

In fact, the National Science Foundation might be missing an important piece. In order to engineer an improved system of science, it’s not only important to understand in a holistic way the system of science, but to understand in a reductionist way how individual scientists within the system of science practice the art of science. Why do I think this? I think this because it’s difficult to intelligently engineer a system unless you know something about how its parts behave. It’d be like trying to intelligently engineer a system of education without knowing how people learn.


  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Nov 05, 2014

    "Einstein’s theories did not refute Newton’s; they simply absorbed them into a more comprehensive theory of gravity and motion. Newton’s theory has its place and it offers an adequate and accurate description, albeit in a limited sphere. As Einstein himself once put it, “The most beautiful fate of a physical theory is to point the way to the establishment of a more inclusive theory, in which it lives as a limiting case.” It is this continuously evolving nature of knowledge that makes science always provisional."


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    dustproduction Jul 27, 2014

    It would have been interesting to see them include spirituality in with this.

    Hauntings, homeopathy, and the Hopkinsville Goblins: using pseudoscience to teach scientific thinking

    "With access to information ever increasing, it is essential that students acquire the skills to distinguish fact from fiction. By incorporating examples of pseudoscience into lectures, instructors can provide students with the tools needed to understand the difference between scientific and pseudoscientific or paranormal claims. We discuss examples involving psychics, ghosts, aliens, and other phenomena in relation to scientific thinking. In light of research literature demonstrating that presenting and dispelling scientific misconceptions in the classroom is an effective means of countering non-scientific or pseudoscientific beliefs, we provide examples of pseudoscience that can be used to help students acquire healthy skepticism while avoiding cynicism."


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    dustproduction Jul 24, 2014

    Those that are ignorant ( I use the term as it applies to "ignore:" refuse to take notice of or acknowledge; disregard intentionally : he ignored her outraged question) of the sciences make the mistake of addressing their attacks at "Science," and not a specific science. I have noticed also that often commenters will at some point reference a specific bit of scientific research to support a claim but will continue to "Science without missing a beat.

    I would love to hear from those with a dim view of "Science."
    How much "Science" do you know? Which of the sciences did you study?

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    dustproduction Jul 23, 2014

    Once again we are witnessing attacks on "science" within these discussion by individual that have appear to have never read a science book.
    I posted a link to a TEDTalk by Naomi Oreskes that addresses this issue by those that are ignorant of science will of course take the time to listen to the talk.

    In the talk she states, "Scientists tell us that the world is warming. Scientists tell us that vaccines are safe. But how do we know if they are right? Why should be believe the science? The fact is, many of us actually don't believe the science. Public opinion polls consistently show that significant proportions of the American people don't believe the climate is warming due to human activities, don't think that there is evolution by natural selection, and aren't persuaded by the safety of vaccines.
    So why should we believe the science? Well, scientists don't like talking about science as a matter of belief. In fact, they would contrast science with faith, and they would say belief is the domain of faith. And faith is a separate thing apart and distinct from science. Indeed they would say religion is based on faith or maybe the calculus of Pascal's wager. Blaise Pascal was a 17th-century mathematician who tried to bring scientific reasoning to the question of whether or not he should believe in God, and his wager went like this: Well, if God doesn't exist but I decide to believe in him nothing much is really lost. Maybe a few hours on Sunday. (Laughter) But if he does exist and I don't believe in him, then I'm in deep trouble. And so Pascal said, we'd better believe in God. Or as one of my college professors said, "He clutched for the handrail of faith." He made that leap of faith leaving science and rationalism behind."

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Jun 26, 2014

    This is a question we see here all the time; Why we should trust scientists?

    "Many of the world's biggest problems require asking questions of scientists — but why should we believe what they say? Historian of science Naomi Oreskes thinks deeply about our relationship to belief and draws out three problems with common attitudes toward scientific inquiry — and gives her own reasoning for why we ought to trust science."


    Please give it a listen and learn something if you are one of those that do the asking.

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Jun 12, 2014

    Re: "you quote negative comments about him from traditional scientists"

    Who was quoted?

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Jun 12, 2014

    B Alan Wallace writes: "The popularity of the writings of (Stephen) Batchelor, (Sam) Harris, and other atheists such as Richard Dawkins – both within the scientific community and the public at large – shows they are far from alone in terms of their utter disillusionment with traditional religions. Modern science, as conceived by Galileo, originated out of a love for God the Father and a wish to know the mind of their benevolent, omnipotent Creator by way of knowing His creation. As long as science and Christianity seemed compatible, religious followers of science could retain what psychologists call a sense of “secure attachment” regarding both science and religion. But particularly with Darwin’s discovery of evolution by natural selection and the militant rise of the Church Scientific, for many, the secure attachment toward religion has mutated into a kind of dismissive avoidance."

    Here Wallace is seeking to simply ignore the facts that people of the time such as Galileo had only one alternative to embracing "God the Father, death.

    Curiously, he then adds: "Children with avoidant attachment styles tend to avoid parents and caregivers – no longer seeking comfort or contact with them – and this becomes especially pronounced after a period of absence."

    Here Wallace is ignoring the causes for avoidant attachment in children; "Avoidant attachment comes about as a result of insecurity that develops in infants because the caregivers are unable to provide the comfort and assurance needed during times of distress."

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Jun 04, 2014

    Every day there are news reports of new health advice, but how can you know if they're right? Doctor and epidemiologist Ben Goldacre shows us, at high speed, the ways evidence can be distorted, from the blindingly obvious nutrition claims to the very subtle tricks of the pharmaceutical industry.


  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Apr 15, 2014

    Few, at this point no one, that bash science, here on the discussion boards, are will to tackle the question posed here and for good reason; it would expose their limited understanding of science.

    If there was a willingness on their part to learn more about science and its humble beginnings, I would recommend "The Origins of Scientific Thought: From Anaximander to Proclus, 600 B.C. to 300 A.D (The History of scientific thought)" by Giorgio de Santillana. I first thought it might be hard to find but it is readily available.

    "This book is a brilliant and stimulating interpretation of great philosophical ideas which have often gone unrecognized, in the onrush of technological advance, as the roots of what we know as science. Giorgio de Santillana has demonstrated here how our scientific age was not born in the seventeenth century, but reborn. For its origins we should turn to that brief and magic period when Greece came to flower. -- The author has selected from the writings of ancient Greece and of the Roman Empire. His skilful commentary shows how the imaginative ideas of science were born, and in what intellectual climate. The modern reader may thus see them as and essential part of our culture.

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Mar 16, 2014

    Reproducibility, not peer review, is the gold standard for determining whether science is “science” or “bunk.”

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Mar 10, 2014

    Science thrives when there is an open, informed discussion of all evidence, and recognition that scientific knowledge is provisional and subject to revision. This attitude is in stark contrast with reaching conclusions based solely on a previous set of beliefs or on the assertions of authority figures. - See more at: http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00017/full?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Neuroscience-w11-2014#sthash.AlCRraid.dpuf

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    dustproduction Mar 08, 2014

    "So what I’d like to talk about today is what we know and don’t know about how individual scientists actually “do” science, with an emphasis on 
    those aspects that we don’t understand but if we did could improve how those individual scientists do science."

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Mar 07, 2014


    Can you solve this

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Mar 07, 2014

    "This essay, and the discussion, is not targeted at those people."

  • NoetPoet Mar 06, 2014

    What truly makes science science is combining logic and empirical evidence to form working models of reality, irrespective of what you want to be true.

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