What is Science?

What would it take for you to believe someone? What does it take for you to accept something as true? Do you favour someones experiences? Do you favour someones hard work in showing empirical data? What exactly is empirical data? How do you make sure subjective experiences are trustworthy?

Science is something that we all have a natural inclining to. When someone claims to know something, you naturally ask how? Why? You then properly assess whether or not their reasons are trustworthy and valid. The process in which to do this relies on very powerful paradigms. There are those that will favour that subjective experiences are the most trustworthy whereas are those that proclaim that objective truths are experience by individuals. So, how can you decide which way is best to assess the truth?

The premise of Science is something that you already do when trying to discover the truth of a matter. When you want to believe something, you look for a means in which to experience that same conclusion result. You try and learn the steps and reasons that the other person took to discover that conclusion themself. You try and see how much of the conclusion is fabricated compared to how much is valid.

Also, you must come up with facts yourself. You must ask yourself how you can elucidate your conclusions in a way that others can accept. You will try to find a means in which removes your possible fabrication or simple deceit. There are people out there that simply want to feel good about themself and the beliefs that they have come to and they will stand firmly by it. Some of these beliefs have gotten them very far and successful in life. Some beliefs have gotten people committed in a way that they are past the point of no return and so feel inclined to consume that belief as their best option.

It is important for science to also look at the confusion of your emotional inclining towards truth. When seeking the truth, you want to be able to ensure that your feelings and others feelings are not interrupting the ideal. If someone points a gun to your head and says, “The earth is flat” you will agree with them for the sake of your safety. However, this is obviously far from the truth and by no means justifies or rationalizes the claim. This is the most extreme example of a very common method of argument that science combats with.

Science strives to remove the gun from the head. The more you are deterred, the more the gap grows between you and the gun bearer. In an discussion and scientific debate, the gun is far gone. You discuss and talk. Exchange of ideas and counter-arguments. Civil disputes that lead to eventual truths. Humbly admitting when you have defended a wrong theory, but never becoming zealous over something you are not sure of.

100% Fact?

Science and facts are always proclaimed to be 100% fact. However, it is completely wrong for any scientist to assume that all knowledge has been attained. There is always room for improvement, development, and learning. While Hippocrates studied in great depths human anatomy, he presumed that health was maintined by humours and their balance. Humours were liquids and phlegm that he thought balanced health in your body.

However, this is not the case, as new evidence and science shows, and is no more utilized. Although, this does not mean that his work on anatomy is wrong or falsified. His study of anatomy was systematic and still truthful and that the rest of his understanding has been modified to the true picture of human anatomy.

No matter what, science will never claim to know anything for certain. Facts are never used as 100% fool proof evidence. The best that science can ever hope for is a 98% certainty. The graph above shows a statisical normal distribution. This is a very basic and common picture seen in statistics. In sampling and statistical studying, you will come to this distribution. Let’s use an example to help understand: most common example is to show that there are two types of errors we can make in statistical scientific study. This is similar to the court room and making your judgment. It is easily possible to say that someone is guilty when, in fact, they are innocent. It is also possible to say that someone is innocent when, in fact, they are guilty. These are referred to as the Type I and II errors. This is where the graph gives room for error (ie. 5% vs .3%).

There is always room to be given for errors, even in statistics. Any good scientist will ensure that is room for development and never claim to have completely and thoroughly explained every possibility as any scientist can never know the extent into which their subject of study can be studied.

The Scientific Method

Here is the commonly held guide for the scientific method:

1 – Define the question

2 – Gather information and resources (observe)

3 – Form hypothesis

4 – Perform experiment and collect data

5 – Analyze data

6 – Interpret data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis

7 – Publish results

8 – Retest (frequently done by other scientists)

With these steps, let me elaborate it’s true purpose:

1 – Define the Question

Make sure that what you intend to explore is stated. This is to ensure that you cannot change the question later on that better suits your results or what you hope to prove. For example; one might be trying to prove that their product is safe (eg. beef). During the experiment, results may prove otherwise. Thus, you go back and change your question to something else such as, “How X particle is not-safe” or “Our beef is better without X” etc. The point is to maintain consistency and avoid a possible bias in your research. More often than not, you are wrong. This is good! This means that you are questioning and learning.

You also want to make sure you’re asking the proper question. In this example, “Why our beef is safe” is a bad question. It is loaded and presuming the conclusion that it is already safe when you could obviously be proven otherwise. Thus, you ought to have an open-ended question that allows for details and development such as “Is our beef safe?” or “What is the quality of our beef?”. The latter question is much better as it is open and allowing for further interpretation by anyone and removes bias.

2 – Gather information and resources

When making a question or claim, you want to ensure that you have information and resources. This is possibly the greatest fundamental. No one will believe you, and you would not believe anyone, if they said that their beef was safe but then said they have not sampled any of their beef. Furthermore, you also would not believe them if they said that their beef was safe but tested someone elses. You also want to make sure that you are using the right resources. You ought to test the quality of beef with something that is reliable and already proven via scientific method. You wouldn’t go proving your quality of beef with a dog-sniffer or a gut-feeling. You will likely use the tools of quality control and bacteria control.

In addition, you want to make sure you take as much information in as possible. Just sampling 1 piece of beef is not sufficient. This is where statistics comes in. You must attain a generally large distribution. While statistics can thoroughly explain the details of why one is better over the other and how to find an appropriate sample size, the point is intuitive – the more the better and accurate.

3 – Form Hypothesis

This is where you will make the hypothesis that particle X is causing bad beef quality or that particle X is causing others to be sick. Again, you want to avoid bias and ensure open-ended results. You would not say something like, “Our beef is safe” as it is not specific enough.

4 – Perform experiment and collect data

This is where you make your personal observations and results. You must ensure that you are doing so in a non-bias way as well. This is where double-blind tests come into play. For example; you are testing the results of your beef. Someone gives you two pieces of beef. One is bad quality, the other is good quality. You, as the researcher, are not allowed to know which is which. Your participants also does not know which is which. You then give the beef to the participants and records the results of their reaction to the beef (or spoiled beef). This allows you to properly assess what is causing the sickness and if it is, in fact, your beef.

There are several means to testing that remove bias, but this is a crucial one. An important fault that can happen is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You ought to avoid the possibility that your desired results will affect the way in which you conduct your research. In the case of clever hans, the possibility of an intelligent horse is remarkable. The trainer will desire for this results and the benefits are grand. This desire will lead to the unconscious behaviour to ensure that the data is collected and presented in such a way.

Clever Hans

This is also an important note for religious debate. If you are pre-disposed that God exists, you want to prove that God exists. Thus, your arguments and data collection will inevitably be directed in this way. A scientist ought not to have any pre-dispositions towards any results and not make any presumptions of the conclusions.

5 – Analyze data

This goes hand in hand with the above. The methodology is also pertinant to the type of research. Basically, don’t use inappropriate or false methods to analyze something

6 – Interpret data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis

Considering your open hypothesis, you are now able to reform your hypothesis and gather a new idea of the results. Often, it is reformed. Often, it remains the same. It all depends on the experiment. In the case of clever hans, the new hypothesis was that he was simply reacting to the audience rather than actually solving math problems.

This reforming and interpretation of data is the ability to be open to new ideas and willingness to change your previous. Many are incapable of doing so and this step can ruin careers and lives. However, it is usually the resisitence and pre-dispositions that ruin this ideal. Noam Chomsky was a great linguistic and developed the Language Acquisition Device. However, there are many arguments that rock the very foundations of this once grand held theory. Much of what Noam Chomsky still remains to be true, but there are many things that are no longer adapted and utilized and Noam Chomsky has had no resistence or stubborness to this. He has adapted with it and grown from it himself. In philosophy, Wittgenstein released in his Philosophical Investigations, he recognized the flaws in his Tractatus. While there are still many truths, there was a certain vice he saw in himself that he acknowledged and pledged a large chapter of his life to and publication.

7 – Publish results

Do not hide your results. These results allow for more learning. Furthermore, no one will believe you if you do not allow anyone to really see your results. For a humourus example, this person says he taught a whale to jump out of it’s tail. Of course, he can’t really describe his results or how it is possible. Thus, he takes them to an actual whale and demonstrates his results. Also notice that he needs to actually show a real whale rather than just reasoning. This is a clear demonstration of how Science aims at your ability to perceive the results yourself.

8 – Retest (frequently done by other scientists)

Of course, it is always good to have others to retest what you have done. This is to reinforce your reliability and to allow for further validation and modifications. Also, this is usually just to experience the results yourself which most people must do in order to believe the results.

Conclusion

Conclusively, science is born from the humans intuition to test others claims. It is born from the idea that you should be able to experience what others have experienced in order for it to be true or to believe it. Science allows for discussion, modification, and change. Science will never claim to know everything and is more inclined to postulate that it knows nothing. It is rationale, reasonable, and logical. Science is all these things in order to remove the possibility that others are lying or have been deceived. It is the observable truth at the time. An interaction of subjective will with objective proof and path to experience.

I hope this has been enlightening.

~


					
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