You wouldn’t be surprised if I told you that I love science. I love reading that the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet was recently found to be emitting hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg smell), ammonia, formaldehyde and other more toxic gases. I love the challenge of experimental design and the patterns that emerge through a thorough analysis of the data. But you know what I love more and more . . . the limitations of science. Why? Because the scientific process has major limitations and by not knowing them we unconsciously allow science and more importantly scientific establishments to unduly influence our perspective.
Let’s start by putting science in its proper place.
To do that we have to uncover the place where it currently resides. This shouldn’t be hard because it is lurking over us, grinning like a sinister archeopteryx!
Our society has let science become master over us. Admit it. It’s true!
Science has taken on an increasingly powerful position in our national policies, legislation, education, and more. “The best available science” is disputed between sparring attorneys in hopes of winning the case. Scientific establishment chimes in on our diet and our health, etc.
The first step in mastering this important yet far too powerful titan is to distinguish between science and the scientific establishments. Science is first and foremost a process (aka a tool), for studying natural phenomena. We use science (not vice versa) to better understand the whys and hows of our world. This is fun and incredibly useful! We are continuing to learn how the human body works, better understand weather patterns, and we can predict the time required for the apple to hit the ground once it begins falling, because of this powerful tool we call science.
The word science is also used to refer to the broad body of scientific knowledge that exists. This is where things begin to get a bit messy. . .
To be continued.