Jamie Hale

Jamie Hale

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Exploring The Vast Domain of Science

Science is often complex- it involves components and sub-components. Science encompasses at least three general areas: scientific cognition, scientific literacy (general scientific knowledge) and domain specific science. Scientific processes are not algorithmic- processes do not involve precise steps producing precise outcomes. The procedures, inferences and model constructions vary tremendously. Below are links to articles that involve exploration of the vast domain of science.

Science is broad; it consists of many components and sub-components. Discussions regarding science are sometimes short-circuited by discussing a single component. These types of discussions oversimplify the wide range of science, its development, and implications. A full appreciation of science requires much more than a focus on a singular element. Skepticism is an element of a scientific attitude and is important, but a skeptical attitude alone—without other cognitive skills and knowledge—doesn’t make one a scientific thinker. Science is all about skepticism, so say the popularizers of science. Skepticism is important, but without the knowledge and appropriate skills, this characteristic will not make one a scientific thinker. Science is hard. In the words of Albert Einstein, “Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler.” https://skepticalinquirer.org/exclusive/science-the-vast-enterprise/

When discussing research methodology, it is important to distinguish between applied and basic research.  Applied research examines a specific set of circumstances, and its ultimate goal is relating the results to a particular situation.  That is, applied research uses the data directly for everyday application. https://psychcentral.com/blog/understanding-research-methodology-5-applied-and-basic-research/

It is common for popular science articles and books to misrepresent science, a practice that isn’t limited to popular publications. Textbooks, peer reviewed publications, and college courses sometimes promote misinformation. To avoid being bamboozled, think for yourself or go to the source and evaluate the evidence for yourself. Science is hard; methods and statistics used within and between scientific domains vary greatly. A brief look at a paper’s abstract is often done when people evaluate studies, reviews, or research reports. Sometimes this is enough to get a general overview, or at least to gather the information one is looking for. However, sometimes a thorough read and investigation of the paper is appropriate. Evaluating a paper—and determining its level of validity (and different types of validity) and reliability—is cognitively demanding. With a little education, including the appropriate mindware, a general understanding of popular science and scholarly science is attainable. https://centerforinquiry.org/blog/scientific-mindware/

The general public has expressed strong confidence and trust in science (Sloss & Hale, Working Paper). Opinion polls indicate science careers are rated among the most admired and trusted occupations, despite their limitations. If you ask most people they will probably agree that science education is important. American kids don’t perform well on some international science tests, and performance gets even worse as they grow into teenagers. https://centerforinquiry.org/blog/rethinking-science-education/