The Science of Science

For this post I would like to stray away from religion and freewill and examine something more down to earth…science. So who gets to decide what science is? This is an age old question that most people do not even look at anymore. What is science? What makes something science? These are real questions, but these questions get asked less and less now a days. If someone with a doctorate tells us that this is science a lot of us just go along with it. He knows what he is talking about.

Please remember before we get to far into this post we have to take a couple things for granted. To even be able to discuss the philosophy of science we have to believe that there really is something to know. We have to believe that there are laws that the universe is bound to, and we have to believe that we can know what these laws are. If we do not believe these requirements then science as we have come to know it cannot exist and this question is null. So….

How many people that are not religious buffs think evolution is a science? The fact of the matter we really do not have solid 100 % true evidence that evolution is real. There are many different things that point us in the direction of evolution rather than creationism.  What about string theory? If anyone has had the opportunity to read string theory I am sure they have asked themselves the question if this is real science. String theory in its most complex theories is extremely out in left field, but if you ask someone on the street they will probably tell you it is science. Why? So the question is, what defines science? Well, that my friends is just one segment of philosophy.

The problem with this question, like most other questions in philosophy, are there are many different answers. Realists have one answer, metaphysics’ have yet another. The only real concrete answer is with the one who is defining science for themselves. The answer lies with your own beliefs.

Science is defined as knowledge attained through study or practice. A system we use to gain knowledge. The fact of the matter is that this can mean absolutely anything. So if we take this definition what gives us the right to say that someone researching a hollow earth is not doing science. Someone chasing Bigfoot or believing in astrology is not practicing science. Based on this definition we do not have that right.

But astrology is not science right? Well the scientific community does not believe the stars have anything to do with our futures, and in truth astrology is not science. It is not, but why? A certain group of people would say it doesn’t follow the scientific method, others say it doesn’t have laws, and some others say it does not have a group of experts that agree on the basic set of what astrology is. These are all examples of tests that philosophers use to gauge out a science from a non-science. But lets say for a second that it does have laws and it does have experts. Then is it science? A realist would say of course not the fact still remains that the stars have nothing to do with our future. But does that make it right?

There must be a true answer to this question sense we have scientists and we study things like chemistry, right? Well that is up to you to find out.

BIGFIX01

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Published in: on January 21, 2008 at 10:07 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Is it possible you’re confusing astronomy with astrology?

    As for evolution, there’s quite a bit of evidence. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

  2. Yep thanks for the comment I was talking about astrology not astronomy. I updated the post to reflect this change. As for evolution I agree totally with you that there is evidence just not rock solid 100% we know that it exists evidence.
    This is still a new theory if you look at it in how long it has been around compared to something like gravity.

  3. The meaning and “definition” of science has come up many times in the classes I taught. We settled the matter by referring to texts on the subject and to the dictionary. This yielded certain postulates.
    Science may be defined as noted in the posting but science is identified by its method of inquiry rather than its subject of study. In this way it is only one of four major epistomologies (the other three being religion, philosophy and logic). It is distiguished from the other three by its method of inquiry. Science arranges theory, deductive logic, observations,and inductive logic in a specific and unique order wherein observations lead to an explanation based upon some theory (deductive logic). This explanation then becomes an hypothesis for “testing.” The testing (observations)are subjected to the empirical measurements that may be replicated by others and subjected to testing for acceptance or rejection under a specified set of criteria. If the observation support the theory then the theory is supported (inductive logic step). If not the theory is not supported. This process must be able to be replicated by others so that they may be verified. This is why astrology is not science. It does not meet the criteria for someting to be “science.”
    In addition, science rests upon certain assumptions, some of which are mentioned in the posting (the universe is orderly and this order behaves acording to certain laws, and these laws are knowable).

  4. The meaning and “definition” of science has come up many times in the classes I taught. We settled the matter by referring to texts on the subject and to the dictionary. This yielded certain postulates.
    Science may be defined as noted in the posting but science is identified by its method of inquiry rather than its subject of study. In this way it is only one of four major epistomologies (the other three being religion, philosophy and logic). It is distiguished from the other three by its method of inquiry. Science arranges theory, deductive logic, observations, and inductive logic in a specific and unique order wherein observations lead to an explanation based upon some theory (deductive logic). This explanation then becomes an hypothesis for “testing.” The testing (observations)are subjected to empirical measurements that may be replicated by others and subjected to testing for acceptance or rejection under a specified set of criteria. If the observation support the theory then the theory is supported (inductive logic step). If not the theory is not supported. This process must be able to be replicated by others so that the results can be verified. This is why astrology is not science. It does not meet the criteria for someting to be “science.”
    In addition, science rests upon certain assumptions, some of which are mentioned in the posting (the universe is orderly and this order behaves acording to certain laws, and these laws are knowable).
    What does anyone think about this perspective?
    Thanks for taking the time to read this and respond.
    Stew Meyers


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