T Nation

What is Science?


I'm doing some research on the nature of science, like what do people in general think science is, and was wondering if you all had some thoughts on it. It's one of those thing I've been thinking about that seems simple, yet after a while isn't at all. I know there is quite the range of people on here, so thought I'd get some opinions.

So, what's science?


It's magic.


The whole point of the inquiry was to differentiate between science and magic. I'm starting to think a lot of people don't bother.


See what i did there?


Science is only cool if you're blinded by it.


Objective studies; applying knowledge/evidence, reason and logic to solve problems and answer questions, scientific method.

Or magic :smiley:


Basically it comes down to everyone agreeing on a proccess and language for investigating phenomenon.

The difference between science and [philosophy, religion, and magic] is it's easy to get in definition battles over those last three, hence, you create your own reality. With science, you have a language that you aren't allowed to define without many other people agreeing on your definition, and you aren't allowed to describe without following methods everyone else decided on described by the definitions they also decided on. Hence, two people with differing beliefs will can come to the same answer.

For example, in philosphy, no one can make a blanket statement and terms such as "happiness" are free to be defined however the user wishes. In science, you have universal laws agreed on and having the same application to everyone unless proven otherwise (such as the concept of time, which was used a certain way until people were able to redefine how to use it, and now everyone is on board with using it the new way).




Science is religion... we use it to try and figure out why and how things happen around us, so we can better understand our place in the universe... you know, kinda like most people believe in god, only in science we stand up and say okay, my mom died for some other reason than god wanted her in heavan or w/e, then sciences autopsies the body to find the cause of death, be it cancer or heart attack etc, then you can say, no god didnt kill that person, their diet was too poor and they didnt excercise so their body quit working properly and literally failed. science is amazing, without it we would be nomads still, maybe further back. constantly question how things work, understanding, then improving upon throws us into an exponentially increasing evolution.

edit, my mom isnt dead that was an example


I disagree here O, all ideologies including religion and magic rely on consensus for validation - not unlike science.

And the very fact that "everyone is on board" is what makes science all the more like magic. We replace our mythology with science because no one (by this I mean mostly regular joes) bother to question it. Thus in place of our deities we now have our Einsteins and Hawkings and we are content to "know" the truth.

Furthermore, science and scientific endeavors are purported by those actors with the means to carry them out. Thus science is imbued with all sorts of social and ideological implications that make it not in the least bit unbiased. See the oil industry, arms race, medical technology as a prime examples.


a bunch of lies


Fucking magnets, how do they work?


There's no need for a regular Joe to question science when science questions itself. I can't see how science is truly replacing a deity when science actually has a burden of proof either.


That's a good point.

I just hate thinking that the masses are thoughtless and ignorant and would rather believe what their told than question bold claims. But life is tough and people have better things to do. Plus maths is hard!


This. Also, here's an example of the fact that religion and philosphy don't have agreed on language:

When discussing what contributes to a population of humans possessing a higher level of happiness with a philosopher, I received the answer:

"Well what makes someone else happy is different than what makes me happy. I'm sure X phenomenon, which you say makes no one happy, has made someone happy in the history of exisstance. Because happiness is so personally defined, there's no way we can know for sure what will make a bunch of people happier. All I can know is that makes me happy."

However, if you ready psychological literature you find:

"Happiness is defined as Sense of Well-being and is measured by these things. A raise by this percentage contributes this much" So already I know what someone else is talking about when they say happiness, i know which phenomenon their discussing, and they have data coming from outside of themselves rather than "I personally think this".

As for Einstien and Hawkings being gods of science, that's hilarious. Einstien tried to disprove his own theory of relativity many times and so has everyone else. Hell, we're still checking atomic clocks coming off of airports to see if he was right!

Also, if it wasn't for the questioning of previous data through science, einstien would still be following newton's reasoning about everything. But instead of accepting the "gods" knowledge, he tested it and made adjustments to what he found.

Irene Pepperberg questioned the "fact" that only mammals were capable of cognition and proved it wrong (that happened in the last 10 years) and there are billions of other examples of "facts" being constantly questioned.

No one's proof is good enough, not even the big names in science. For every big name, there are thousands trying to disprove.


I always refer to my manuals.


True science is a tool more than anything. How it's used mostly depends on who wants to fund it nowdays and who they believe. However, that doesn't alter what it performs and what it's possibilities are. Once you get to the lab level, these things just don't have any hold on what happens.

What happens isn't that science is biased- what happens is that it's REPORTING to the public is biased. Also, what is being researched depends on what people will fund, and even wording a grant so it will get funded is like learning ballet.

So yes, the average man's idea of what science says and a scientist's idea are pretty different. For example, nutrition. If you look at the articles on caffiene, you can get a great picture of what it can or can't do for the body, and none of the sources disagree. BUT, if you look at popular health magazines, you'd be instantly convinced to swear off it due to "scientific findings".


Science is the effort to further understand, it, however, science is not truth or certainty.


I think where people are getting confused is that they feel that they are supposed to make life decisions based on scientific findings the way they used to based on religion because most science is presented to them in "Time" magazine as recommendations for daily living.

Here's the thing- if you don't want to follow what some scientific finding recommends, don't. See what happens. If you want to eat sugary carbs all day long because you don't believe in insulin, by all means have your cake and eat it to.

You can FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF that what science described is real.


"science is not truth"...?