Thursday, July 7, 2011

What science is.

As a kind of follow up to my last post, I’d like to clarify what exactly science is, and therefore explain why it can be appropriate to put “science” or “scientists” in quotes sometimes.
Science is simply the process of figuring out whether or not something is true, based on sound, testable methods. If I eat a bowl of beans, and then get in a car accident two hours later, one could hypothesize that the beans caused that. So we feed bowls of beans to a thousand people lets say, and if none, or very few of them get in car accidents later, then we know that it wasn’t the beans that caused it. That’s it. That’s science.
I have the deepest respect for science and the scientific method. The scientific method is the most perfected system we have thus far conceived as humans, for deducing what is true and what is not.
The problem is, because of the immense credibility of the scientific method, people often call what they do scientific, because it sounds really good. Scientists and “scientists” are sometimes two separate things.
And a good example of cases where even good intentioned, knowledgable scientists engage in pseudo-science, is when they test “alternative” medicines in the same way they test conventional medicines. Homeopathy, herbal medicine and chiropractic have all been called scams by the scientific community, but none of these things were ever claimed to operate the same way prescription drugs do. So when “scientists” take them into a test lab and expect them to kill symptoms instantaneously the way the drugs do, their conclusion is that they don’t work.
It’s like testing a car next to a boat in the water, and saying “my gosh, this boat is terrible. It can’t float at all.” It’s not a boat.
Most alternative medical practices focus more on building up the big picture of the bodies health, so that it can fight off whatever it’s trying to fight off. They do not target individual symptoms and attempt to eliminate them without addressing the underlying cause, the way most conventional medicine does. And in the case of homeopathy, if anybody ever advertises a remedy that claims to eliminate a certain symptom, that likely is a scam, because it’s against the principle of how homeopathy works and what it does.
Anyways, this post is not about alternative medicine or conventional medicine. Those will be discussed later in more detail. The point is that science, and the scientific method, are practically infallible. The scientific method is a system of testing whether something is true or not, and it’s a system that is flawless, because of it’s brilliant simplicity and tight relationship with reality.
It’s people that are not infallible. People who are not flawless, brilliant, simple, or in tight relationship with reality. And this is why many “scientists” and “scientific experiments” belong in quotes.

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