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Goals of Science

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Goals of Science

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 explain. And it's surprisingly easy to become part of this great discovery. All you need is your natural curiosity and an understanding of how people use the process of science to learn about the world.

Goals of Science

Science involves objective, logical, and repeatable attempts to understand the principles and forces working in the natural universe. Science is from the Latin word, scientia , which means “knowledge.” Science is an ongoing process of testing and evaluation, and is guided by an universal set of principles. One of the intended benefits of these concepts is to become more familiar with the scientific process.

Humans are naturally interested in the world we live in. Young children constantly ask "why" questions. Science is a way to get some of those “whys” answered. 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 like Brand X of salad dressing, and Brand Y is on sale, perhaps you will try Brand Y. And then if you like Brand Y, you may buy it again even when it is not on sale. If you did not like Brand Y, then no sale will get you to try it again. Your conclusions are essentially based on an experiment. To find out why a person makes a particular purchasing choice, 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 you like it. If you like it, you will probably buy it again. That is a type of experiment.

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 accepting claims based on faith or anecdotes. Scientific skepticism uses critical thinking to analyze such claims and opposes claims which lack scientific evidence.

Vocabulary

  • experiment : A test that is used to rule out a hypothesis or validate something already known; a test that 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.

Summary

  • 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.

Practice

Use this resource to answer the question that follows.

  1. Describe the goals of the scientist in this video.

Review

  1. What is science? What is the goal of science?
  2. What is an experiment? Why are experiments performed?
  3. Describe scientific skepticism.

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