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What is Science?


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Moderation note: Moved the first 25 post of this thread from Question and Answer forum, because post #1 is not asking a question suitable for Q&A-style responses, but one eliciting discussion.

 

I believe science is merely the defining of information. And upon preliminary discussion with my atheist peer group, I find that the scientists there are offended, because the definition does not meet their satisfaction; and it appears to be that they have a tremendous regard for the industry's abstract standardization of 'scientific method,' in equal regard for their specific sub-field of research.

 

It is not that I am trying to disparage scientists - it is just that I am trying to standardize a proper definition of science, and then maybe, we can standardize 'scientific method' in more concrete stable terms. I believe scientific method is a series of already defined methods, such as, curiosity, hypography, designing, engineering, observation, recording, analyzing, prediction, and finally, defining the information for self and others to appreciate.

 

What is science?

What is scientific method?

What is the science industry?

 

BONUS: does a child exercise science when walking - down a staircase? :)

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Well, mister cynic,

what if you had spent your life as a carpenter, designing new homes, cabinetry and furniture that delighted the senses, and this had earned you recognition as a great architect, a great artist and an acknowledged master on all the different kinds of woods and their attributes -- and one day, someone comes up and says, "carpentry is just whittling wood!"

 

To top it off, this someone with the cynical attitude has never built a house, a cabinet, a chair, and had only watched somebody whittle just once.

 

How seriously would you take this someone?

 

How would you answer?

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I believe part of your problem is the word "merely" in that opening sentence. Science is about much more than a collection of facts or definitions, much in the same way that a house is much more than a collection of bricks.

 

Science is a process by which well-defined and falsifiable predictions are put forth to explain the behavior of the natural world, where those predictions are tested, false hypothesis discarded, and every idea scrutinized. These predictions are consistent and repeatable by others with differing views.

 

Your assertion suggests that science is a dictionary, but it's not. It's a process... a methodology... and a rather elegant way to further our understanding of the way reality behaves.

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The scientific method doesn't really require further definition. It is not a set of laws and regulations, but rather basic requirements for conducting experiments and reporting the results via analysis and study. This becomes more or less scientific through peer review and subsequent testing and retesting.

 

As to whether a child excercises science while walking down a stairs - I wouldn't know. The act of walking is not a science unless the child does it as part of a study. But who knows what the child is thinking of? Maybe she is performing some analysis in her head while walking?

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I'm having a problem with equating science with "merely" the "defining of information" and I'm shooting for utilizing the Scientific Method (testing for "necessary and sufficient") to explain that problem, perhaps even with an eye to the Bonus..

 

First, let's define terms since all we have on a forum is language and it is essential in the scientific method to be certain any involved in a discussion are actually referring to the same bits if a useful conclusion is to be remotely possible:

 

"defining" (from Miriam-Webster's online dictionary)

< 1 a: to determine or identify the essential qualities or meaning of>

 

"information" (ibid)

< 2 a (1): knowledge obtained from investigation, study, or instruction>

 

Defining does not necessarily imply determining whether "essential qualities" has any bearing on a given problem or even if it actually exists in reality (we can agree on a definition of a "frumious bandersantch" or a "light sabre" but only for amusement and curiosity's sake) so at best in scientific terms it is merely observation or fantasy conclusion that ends there with little room for hypothesis, experimentation, prediction, or experimentation - garbage in, garbage out (no offense intended to Lewis Carroll or Star Wars fan boys).

 

Information is even a little more difficult and less precise since not only does it often, and understandably, get confused with "data", with which it may overlap slightly, but especially "obtained from instruction" presents grave problems since garbage can and has been taught and still is. Witness the "Intelligent Design" poppycock still seeking validity despite deserved cynicism from within and from without.

 

It seems to me that Science is far more than mere definition or mere information. It is a testable system of gathering and organization of data that rejects cruft and places odds on reliability to allow the best possible conclusions of understanding the world. It is an ever-evolving, recursive and self-correcting process, not simply a string of accepted facts.

 

Your "child walking down a staircase" is a good example of how no conclusion can be scientifically made with such limited "defined information". It's like asking "How long is a string?".

 

Assuming it is the child's first time navigating stairs, hopefully he/she has observed others walking down stairs and carefully noted the details required to be successful, maybe even seen an example of someone not paying attention and paying the price. Hopefully this child has even noticed that leaping several steps requires longer legs and greater balance than they yet possess. It would be best if they had closely observed and processed the event of another similarly sized and experienced child holding on the railing and proceeding slowly and with great caution as to balance.

 

Throwing out useless, even dangerous information, while keeping high reliability pertinent information is essential, implying the facility to draw such conclusions perhaps by predicting that a fall down a full flight is an unacceptable risk and experimenting on a two step stair first, before concluding that the likelihood of successfully navigating a full flight of stairs will result in triumph, not tragedy. Having confidence in the reliability of both one's ability to create an unbroken line of logic, relying on no great leaps of faith, as well as the ability to execute such a plan boldly instead of unreasoned paralyzing fear is fairly essential to such a process as well. If instead, the child simply throws himself at the stairs trusting only in "if they can do it, I can do it", it isn't science, from the perspective of the child, unless that almost inevitable fall is analyzed for "what I did wrong and how can I avoid that in the future?".

 

So my opinion for the answers to your questions is that I have demonstrated the scientific method, which is already standardized requiring no further discussion, which is not dependent on "already defined methods" since I think people discover or are capable of discovering the means to reliable conclusions with no training (it simply gets more refined with such input) because of trial and error experimentation and the way our brains are wired, and permeates everything reliable such as Mathematics, Business, Infrastucture, the rules of evidence in crime scene investigation and the nature of Justice, to name only a few.

 

An example of Science's involvement with the unknown, the undefined, or not well defined is here, from Georges Charpak: hardwired for science - CERN Courier

 

 

CERN’s immediate future lies with the LHC. What discoveries do you expect?

 

We expect the unknown – to see things that are not necessarily foreseen by theory. Because there are still mysteries in physics – dark matter, for example – there are answers from theoreticians and there are many questions from experimentalists like myself. If theory were completely accurate we would not need to build an accelerator.

 

An example of how we are wired is here We?re hard-wired for basic geometry - Science Mysteries- msnbc.com

 

and some of the argument on the nature of hardwiring here Are We Hardwired?: The Role of Genes ... - Google Books

 

 

As for the last question I am admittedly uneasy about the term "science industry" since it seems to me to imply some static product churned out by some well-defined, agenda driven, profit seeking organization for mass consumption and I see no evidence of such a thing. Therefore, until I see some evidence, it doesn't exist for me and can't be answered.

 

I am even more concerned with "atheist peer group" (you suppose utter homogeneity?) and "offended, because the (your) definition does not meet their satisfaction" since a measuring ruler is useless if we don't agree on the length of an inch or a centimeter. How can you expect to talk Math with Mathematicians if you don't accept that a triangle always has three sides?

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1 - What is science?

> I think (modern) science is the discipline of observing, testing and forming theories based on axioms.

 

If viewed strictly, science is a discipline that must follow previously agreed upon methodology. Otherwise, experimentation and theories are subject to invalidation before said methodology is utilized. From this view, science's main purpose is to make predictions that are consistent and can be substantiated by any 'typical' observer. If it is detected prior to experimentation, that a proposed experiment is vague in its hypothesis and/or is not bearing predictable conclusions, the hypothesis may be deemed 'unscientific.'

 

2 - What is scientific method?

> This is a set of guidelines, that instruct all observers and those engaging in experimentation with how to proceed, in a linear way, to achieve scientific theories and/or to rule out data within a hypothesis, that when tested, did not meet the assumptions of the proposition.

 

When applied, the method falls within the discipline of science, and is thus based on fundamental axioms which may or may not be intrinsic to the given hypothesis.

 

From strict viewpoint, methodology must be focussed on gathering empirical data and measurable evidence. Otherwise, both hypotheses and (alleged) theories are subject to judgments of unpredictability, psuedo-science, and/or irrational claims.

 

3 - What is the science industry?

> I venture to say that this would be attempts to standardize science as discipline and education. Based on a desire for consistency and efficiency in advancing research in a particular field, in a particular way that is deemed by the group as "tried and tested."

 

IMO, this would be where scientific practice could become dogma unless checked, and checked in such a way where proposed forms of research and education are themselves subject to methodology. IMO, this can get tricky and even burdensome, but welcome to life on earth.

 

BONUS: does a child exercise science when walking - down a staircase?

> Yes. But it depends on factors that are perhaps of no concern to the child.

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1 - What is science?

> I think (modern) science is the discipline of observing, testing and forming theories based on axioms....

BONUS: does a child exercise science when walking - down a staircase?

> Yes. But it depends on factors that are perhaps of no concern to the child.

Change the word "axioms" to "evidence".

Theories are not based on "axioms" which are a form of assumption.

 

I was once told that everything that a child below the age of two does to other objects, animate or inanimate, constitute a physics experiment. This includes learning to walk. In a sense, I can see that. But as the physics lessons are learned, the experiments go away.

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Change the word "axioms" to "evidence".

Theories are not based on "axioms" which are a form of assumption.

 

Evidence is what is sought and/or found.

 

Axioms are what what the proposition is based on, in order to proceed. Wikipedia says about axioms:

 

In traditional logic, an axiom or postulate is a proposition that is not proved or demonstrated but considered to be either self-evident, or subject to necessary decision. Therefore, its truth is taken for granted, and serves as a starting point for deducing and inferring other (theory dependent) truths.

 

That we live in a physical universe and that the body's sensory perception is sufficient method for making observations is example of axioms at work. Objective proofs for such "truths" are rarely, if ever, sought and are, I believe, considered self-evident, trivial, and inconsequential concerns to many (perhaps all) scientific propositions.

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And evidence (is) found from experiments.

 

Experiments based on observations.

 

Observations invoked from a hypothesis or proposition.

 

Which are based on axioms.

 

Looking back at what I said earlier, I can see how you got what you are saying from my posted entry. To clarify and to deal with fundamentals, I would say: I think (modern) science is a discipline based on axioms

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My source for the first two answers is "Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary."

 

"What is science?" "[T]he state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding."

 

"What is the scientific method?" "[P]rinciples and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses."

 

"What is the science industry?" I couldn't find that one. I've never heard the term before, and it reminds me of the cartoon industry on "The Simpsons," with black smoke billowing from its smokestacks.

 

"Does a child exercise science when walking - down a staircase?" No. A child walking down a staircase is, for those of you with short attention spans, a child walking down a staircase. That question could be turned into a nice riddle, but it couldn't launch a scientific investigation.

 

--lemit

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surprise, surprise! everything is just a theory weird things

Want to make a scientist groan? Listen to a lecture about cutting edge research in his or her area of expertise, then say the five dreaded words: “it’s all just a theory.” From creationists to people who seem to believe that if it hasn’t been done yet, it must be impossible, habitual abusers of this phrase wield it to dismiss and demean vast swaths of modern science with a haughty sneer. In the process, they keep showing just how little grasp of the scientific method they have and impress only those who don’t know that even such basic tenets as how germs make us sick or the flow of time, are all “just theories.” In science, a theory is something that seems to be confirmed time and time again, no matter how many times we test it or how many people try to replicate it. <more at the link>
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Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah -- and one day, someone comes up and says, "carpentry is just whittling wood!"

 

To top it off, this someone with the cynical attitude has never built a house, a cabinet, a chair, and had only watched somebody whittle just once.

 

How seriously would you take this someone?

 

How would you answer?

Well, I would hope I could provide the more correct answer for the person who needs a more precise answer.

 

Sure, maybe on a particular instant I might get all upset, and irrational like grandious scientists seem to get; but if my emotions are in check and I am confident that I know what I do, and I do what I do; and I have explored all the 'philosophical' ends of what I believe to be paramount of my life, I would have an efficeint answer at the ready. I wouldn't beat the dead horse with analogies.

 

In other words, you just gave a straw man argument.

 

Off the top of my head, I would define carpentry as the technographic methods associated with wood.

carpentry

n : the craft of a carpenter: making things out of wood [syn: {woodworking},

{woodwork}]

carpenter

n : a woodworker who makes or repairs wooden objects

 

Now, you are posing the analogy that science is to carpentry, as if science is something that cannot be defined in efficient terms, or what???

 

What's your point?

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I believe part of your problem is the word "merely" in that opening sentence. Science is about much more than a collection of facts or definitions, much in the same way that a house is much more than a collection of bricks.
I did not define science as a collection of information - that would be knowledge and/or technology. I defined science as the behavior/action DEFINING information - get it?

 

Science is a process by which well-defined and falsifiable predictions are put forth to explain the behavior of the natural world, where those predictions are tested, false hypothesis discarded, and every idea scrutinized. These predictions are consistent and repeatable by others with differing views.
And, just how does one repeat a prediction if he is not made aware of the project?

 

In other words, information has to be provided for the subsequent experiements, and that information has to be defined by the previous technician.

 

Now, I think, that what you are doing is not seperating science from the method(s), nor are you seperating the industry from either term: science, or scientific method.

 

Your assertion suggests that science is a dictionary, but it's not. It's a process... a methodology... and a rather elegant way to further our understanding of the way reality behaves.
Well, we don't have to go over how my definition read, again. What we do need to go over is what, then, is a science book?

 

A collection of definitions, and descriptions???

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The scientific method doesn't really require further definition. It is not a set of laws and regulations, but rather basic requirements for conducting experiments and reporting the results via analysis and study. This becomes more or less scientific through peer review and subsequent testing and retesting.
Wow:eek: "Basic requirements," are not the same as laws, or regulations???

 

As to whether a child excercises science while walking down a stairs - I wouldn't know. The act of walking is not a science unless the child does it as part of a study. But who knows what the child is thinking of? Maybe she is performing some analysis in her head while walking?
You are not confident that analysis is being conducted and that operation of the body movements is not necessarily the result of past experiements designed into an order of new experiement that ultimately results in the child achieving the ability to walk. You believe there is, probably, some other method being employed that would distinguish it from science?
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Sure, maybe on a particular instant I might get all upset, and irrational like grandious scientists seem to get;

Well, at least now we know what your intentions here are. You just shat all over the responses people gave you, and being a noob with so few posts under your belt, it's readily apparent that you have no desire for real discussion with the members here, and that you're just interested in pooping all over science and people who engage in its practice.

 

Your definitions are wrong, as has already been explained by practically every respondent above. Closing your eyes and plugging your ears... lashing out like a prick to people who bothered offering a response to your question... doesn't change that.

 

 

Hell... even wiki disagrees with you. :cup:

 

Science - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Science (from the Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge") refers to any systematic knowledge-base or prescriptive practice that is capable of resulting in a prediction or predictable type of outcome. In this sense, science may refer to a highly skilled technique or practice.[1]

 

In its more restricted contemporary sense, science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge based on scientific method, and to the organized body of knowledge gained through such research.[2][3] This article focuses on the more restricted use of the word. Science as discussed in this article is sometimes called experimental science to differentiate it from applied science - the application of scientific research to specific human needs - although the two are often interconnected.

 

Science is a continuing effort to discover and increase human knowledge and understanding through disciplined research. Using controlled methods, scientists collect observable evidence of natural or social phenomena, record measurable data relating to the observations, and analyze this information to construct theoretical explanations of how things work. The methods of scientific research include the generation of hypotheses about how phenomena work, and experimentation that tests these hypotheses under controlled conditions. Scientists are also expected to publish their information so other scientists can do similar experiments to double-check their conclusions. The results of this process enable better understanding of past events, and better ability to predict future events of the same kind as those that have been tested.

 

Nothing in there about the "defining of information."

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It seems to me that Science is far more than mere definition or mere information. It is a testable system of gathering and organization of data that rejects cruft and places odds on reliability to allow the best possible conclusions of understanding the world. It is an ever-evolving, recursive and self-correcting process, not simply a string of accepted facts.
You see, I think you are equating the industry of science with the definition of science.

 

Although, you make a good analysis of the conotation that "industry," brings, you basically are disregarding that what ever organization employs scientists is agenda driven, and all the rest of the descriptors. You, just are not identifying all the specifics, because they may not be available, or your idealism of science causes you to disregard.

 

As for the last question I am admittedly uneasy about the term "science industry" since it seems to me to imply some static product churned out by some well-defined, agenda driven, profit seeking organization for mass consumption and I see no evidence of such a thing. Therefore, until I see some evidence, it doesn't exist for me and can't be answered.

 

I am even more concerned with "atheist peer group" (you suppose utter homogeneity?) and "offended, because the (your) definition does not meet their satisfaction" since a measuring ruler is useless if we don't agree on the length of an inch or a centimeter. How can you expect to talk Math with Mathematicians if you don't accept that a triangle always has three sides?
That is, basically, what I have been trying to convey to Atheists. They are prime examples of irrational thought in support of reason - if they are a bastion of reason, why can they not decide on anything?

 

Not even what to call themselves :cup:

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