What is science?
The goal of science is to learn how nature works by observing the natural and physical world, and to understand this world through research and experimentation. Science is a distinctive way of learning about the world through observation, inquiry, formulating and testing hypotheses, gathering and analyzing data, and reporting and evaluating findings. We are all part of an amazing and mysterious phenomenon called "life" that thousands of scientists everyday are trying to better understand. It is surprisingly easy to become part of this great discovery. All you need is an understanding of how people use the process of science to learn about the world and your natural curiosity.
Goals of Science
The term science is derived from the Latin word, scientia, which means “knowledge.” Science involves objective, logical, and repeatable experimental attempts to understand the principles and forces working in the natural universe. Science is an ongoing process of testing and evaluation, and is guided by a universal set of principles. One of the intended lessons of "Goals of Science" is for you to become more familiar with the scientific process.
Humans are naturally interested in the world we live in. Young children constantly pose the question "why". The goal of science is to answer these question . You may not realize it, but you are performing experiments all the time. For example, when you shop for groceries, you may end up carrying out a type of scientific experiment (Figure below). If you know you like Brand X of salad dressing but Brand Y is on sale, perhaps you will try Brand Y. If you end up liking Brand Y, you may buy it again even when it is not on sale. If you did not like Brand Y, not even a sale would entice you into buying it again. Your conclusions are essentially based on an experiment. To find out why a person might prefer a salad dressing over another, you might examine the cost, ingredient list, or packaging of the two salad dressings.
Shopping sometimes involves a little scientific experimentation. You are interested in inventing a new type of salad that you can pack for lunch. You might buy a vegetable or salad dressing that you have not tried before to discover if it would make an appealing addition to your salad. If you like it, you will probably buy it again. This is a type of experiment in which you have discovered a liking for something new.
There are many different areas of science, or scientific disciplines, but all scientific study involves:
- asking questions
- making observations
- relying on evidence to form conclusions
- being skeptical about ideas or results
Skepticism is an attitude of doubt about the truthfulness of claims that lack empirical evidence. Scientific skepticism, also referred to as skeptical inquiry, questions claims based on their scientific verifiability rather than simply accepting claims based on faith or anecdotes. Scientific skepticism uses critical thinking to analyze such claims and opposes claims which lack scientific evidence.
- experiment: A test that is used to rule out a hypothesis or validate something already known; is used to eliminate one or more of the possible hypotheses until one hypothesis remains.
- science: A distinctive way of learning about the natural world through observation, inquiry, formulating and testing hypotheses, gathering and analyzing data, and reporting and evaluating findings.
- scientific skepticism: Questioning claims based on their scientific verifiability rather than accepting claims based on faith or anecdotes.
- Scientific skepticism questions claims based on their scientific verifiability rather than accepting claims based on faith or anecdotes. Scientific skepticism uses critical thinking to analyze such claims and opposes claims which lack scientific evidence.
Use this resource to answer the question that follows.
- The Aim of a Good Scientist at http://www.5min.com/Video/The-Aim-of-a-Good-Scientist-291035149 (03:27).
- Describe the goals of the scientist in this video.
- What is science? What is the goal of science?
- What is an experiment? Why are experiments performed?
- Describe scientific skepticism.