Misconceptions About Science

I don't whether it's the way that science is taught in our school system, but many people have misconceptions regarding what science is and what it does. I believe this may be because most of what is taught in the lower grades and high school concerns the history of science, the achievements of science and known facts that science has discovered. To me, this absolutely the wrong approach. What science really is, is a process for discovering the truth about ourselves, our environment and the universe in general. Like any human endeavor, to succeed it requires a method and the proper tools. The method is really simple, it starts with observations about the real world, from these observations the scientist forms a hypothesis, next he or she must perform experiments to determine whether the hypothesis is valid and true. The experiment must be repeatable by anyone using the same equipment and the same methods. The tool that a scientist uses depends upon the particular science one is pursuing and the experiment required to prove or disprove the hypothesis.

This may vary from simple observation, such as Jane Goodall has done in her study of gorillas, to sophisticated and expensive equipment such microscopes, computers, particle accelerators and high powered telescopes. The one tool used by all sciences is mathematics. It is the cornerstone on which all science depends. Now for the misconceptions. The first one is that any theory put forth by science is totally correct for all time or is false. Critics of science often cite the fact that scientific theory is constantly changing as new facts are learned and our equipment becomes more sophisticated. We often speak of "laws," such as The Law of Gravity. This is simply a misnomer. There is no such thing as an unmodifable scientific law. Nonetheless, this does not mean the findings of science are not valid. Most of the great theories are still correct for ninety-nine percent of the cases for which they apply. It is only a few exceptions that cause theories to be modified. The second great misconception is that science is anti-religion or anti-God.This is not true.

It may show that what has been written in the past in so-called holy books is incorrect, but it neither proves nor disproves the existence of a First Cause or Supreme Being. People into the occult or believe in ghosts, UFOs, big foot, telepathy, etc. claim that there is a conspiracy by the scientific community to ignore the evidence for the existence of such things. They have it all backwards. It is not up to the scientific community to prove their claims, but the people who make them to do so. For example, let us say that I claim that a ghost is haunting my house. To prove this claim, I need to produce the ghost for credible skeptical witnesses. At one time, a Professor Rhine claimed that he had proof that mental telepathy existed in certain people. It turned out that he fudged the results of his experiments. When others tried to duplicate his experiments, they did not get the same results. Another misconception is to blame science for the misuse of the technology that results from scientific discoveries. In the first place, scientists seldom know what will result from their discoveries. Most scientific discoveries have benefited mankind. Knowing more about the universe we live in cannot be a bad thing.