I am taking two classes this term: Introduction to Humanities and Intro to Natural Science. Intro to Humanities sucks and I don’t want to talk about it. Intro to Physical Science is AWESOME and I love it. One of the assignments for that class is the keeping of a “science” blog. Here’s the link for ‘Science with Becky‘.
That’s that but there is something else I want to get off my chest. It has to do with science but its of a more personal nature so I thought I’d share it here instead of the graded blog.
My science education was horrible. It wasn’t so much that I had a poor scientific education. No, no, no. I had a BAD scientific education. As in, I was taught LIES and purposefully misinformed. I actually feel kind of embarrassed writing this because it reveals the incredible level of ignorance and stupidity that I walked in for over a decade and it’s humiliating. However, the best way to discourage mind rot is to expose it to the light of day so here we go with the list of scientific things I didn’t know until I was almost 30:
1. The difference between a scientific theory and an “I have a random thought” theory. A random “I have a theory” theory is one like, “Hey, Becky. I have a theory on why your car won’t start. I think the gnomes did it,” or “I have a theory as to why the Air Force sucks…too much starch in the uniforms.” A scientific theory, on the other hand, is “[a] synthesis of a large body of information that encompasses well-tested and verified hypotheses about certain aspects of the natural world” (Hewitt, Suchocki, & Hewitt, p. 10) (emphasis mine). It’s not just some made up bullshit.
This was most commonly misapplied to the “theory” of evolution. Much was made of it being “just a theory.” Of course, it was never suggested that the “theory” of gravity was “just a theory.”
2. What a hypothesis was. A hypothesis is easy. It is a statement that is testable. That’s it. The definition, again from Hewitt, etc, is “[a]n educated guess; a reasonable explanation of an observation or experimental result that is not fully accepted as factual until tested over and over again by experiment” (p. 10). Included in that definition is the fact that it must be testable. That means it must be possible to prove it WRONG! If it cannot be proven wrong, it’s not a hypothesis.
Example of a non-hypothesis: The universe is permeated with non-detectable particles that control everything.
How do you create a test for non-detectable things? You can’t. Therefore, such a statement can NEVER be proven wrong because you can’t create a test for it.
3. What “peer-reviewed” meant. This is something I learned before this class but it’s not something I learned in “school.” I had no understanding of what it meant when scientist made discoveries. I had the impression that you went to school to become a “scientist” and then went to work and your title was “scientist” and you fiddled around with sciencey stuff then made wild claims and people were supposed to believe you because your name tag said, “Joe Brown – Scientist.”
I want to write more but I’m tired and need to sleep. Science is cool. I leave you with these two videos. I hope you enjoy.