What is science?

Discussion in 'Science and Nature' started by Zylark, Aug 23, 2008.

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  1. #1 Zylark, Aug 23, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 23, 2008
    Science is a method, and nothing else. But before I get to what the method is, let me do some background.

    Science comes from, as many other things, latin. 'Scientia' meaning knowledge. As such, science is the pursuit of knowledge. Not the keeper of knowledge, we got libraries, the net and museums to do that.

    Science is all about new understanding. It is what keeps science ever dynamic and also ever changing in its knowledge of reality. That is, the deeper we understand something, the better we can explain phenomena that we previously could only describe superficially.

    For example, Newtonian physics describe gravity and how it affects mass, but it do not explain it. It took Einstein to do that. Yet, Newton was not wrong, just not complete. And neither I suspect, was Einstein, but it is the best we got thus far.

    And many, if not all, scientific theories are incomplete.

    So what is the scientific method? In simple terms, it is attempting to explain nature by observing natural phenomena. Usually through a five step procedure:

    1: Observation/Research

    Monkey see, monkey want to see more.

    2: Hypothesis

    Monkey thinks of how observations might be connected. That is defining correlations and causations based on observation or research.

    3: Prediction

    Monkey use hypothesis to define true/false criteria when extrapolating the hypothesis into thus far unknown territory.

    4: Experimentation

    Monkey designs experiments that will ideally falsify or validate a prediction made from a hypothesis. Not that easy always, as correlation and causation can be hard to distinguish from another.

    5: Conclusion

    Monkey analyzes the experimentation, and from that either have confirmed a hypothesis (at which point it becomes a theory), or the evidence do not support the hypothesis. That is when one get really drunk, and use a year or two to find another field of research that tickles ones fancy.


    Some seem to think there is a hiearchy of scientific understanding. Ranging from hypothesis via theory to law. That is just wrong.

    A hypothesis is an explanation that is not proven, or falsified. A theory is an explanation that is proven and not falsified. A law is just a specific subset of a theory.

    In scientific terms, fact, theory and law are more or less interchangable. It just depends upon scope and focus.


    What is not science:

    Basically anything that relies upon the non-natural (that is supernatural) and all that is premised upon or concludes with logical fallacy.

    Supernatural is not science because it can not be experimented upon. Logical fallacies are just wrong. No two ways about it.


    Just a short primer, since I've seen quite the few non-scientific arguments made here at the science and nature part of the forum. I am sure others got something to add though :)

    Please, if are thinking of posting in the Science and Nature section, review what Zylark has posted. If these criteria are not met in your topic, then you need to post it in the Spirituality and Philosophy section.

    This section is more for sharing new discoveries and debating conflicting scientific theories. Conspiracy theories, alternative histories, supernatural events/abilities, religious beliefs and other subjective reality belong in the S&P.
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