The March for Science and new “science talk shows” to enlighten the masses about settled science might be a worthy cause to some, but will this effort truly help educate society about science literacy and the true goal of science? What is the real intent of this movement?
Many associated with the march wanted to bring an understanding of the scientific process and literacy of science, but instead some in the media, as they tend to do, give the appearance that they want to make it about politics and ideology of one thought. I would like to educate the media about this process. First, the scientific process should not be political, it should be used for observation to disprove an accepted theory. The goal of science is to understand the natural world as we humans are to record and understand what aspects of nature respond to changes in our universe.
In some cases, that has been observed for years is still changing and adding to strength of evidence previous scientists have contributed and we are still learning about how these ideas work in nature with advancements in technology and other instrumentation which extend beyond our natural senses. Just think of the things we now know due to the invention of the Hubble Telescope, the sequencing of the human genome, antibiotics, and stem cell therapy. All of those innovations were results of years of observation, skepticism, and peer review of an accepted theory – the process of science was allowed to flourish.
Where science should be allowed to flourish is in the halls of academia and classrooms across the country without bias and slanted views of the process. Such thinking that science is settled is dangerous to innovation and narrows curriculum to those who want to learn about scientific literacy. Bill Nye, and others like him in the media, are not the arbiters of how science minded people should think. People who study and teach science, should and must have a healthy skepticism of theory and practice – as this is the core of the scientific process.
The media, and their minions who worship every word they communicate, are viewing science in an light the borders on religiosity. This breeds serious concerns and misconceptions about how science should be viewed and used to shape policy. The goal of science is to consistently challenge a theory that is within the accepted realm of scientific thought and process. Science should not ever be used to substitute for an ideology or create a thought process that lends itself to worship. Some of the verbiage from the media sycophants, like Bill Nye, contend that the science settled on Climate Change Theory. Really?
Science is never settled and the day that it becomes settled, we stop innovating and teaching real science literacy in the world. Climate change is an accepted theory in the realm of science – although some may disagree that it is occurring, but that is the process of science. The basic principle of science is to be skeptical.
Before the 1950’s, there was little evidence on global warming. Much of the evidence was in its infancy about what science calls Climate Change Theory today. By studying the aspects and scientific facts of a proposed and accepted theory, one has to continually observe and collect evidence to determine causes and trends – this is ongoing and takes years to determine with great acceptance. Therefore, science as a process has to be given its due diligence to support or not support the idea – and science should never be settled.
The famous philosopher, Karl Popper said the following: “if a theory is in principle open to being disproved or ‘falsified’ by the facts of the world, then it is scientific. If it is not open to being falsified by the facts of the world, then it is pseudo-science, ideology.” Aren’t scientific hypotheses made to be scrutinized or falsified? If the idea holds muster, then it makes the theory stronger and Climate Change Theory, by scrutinization, should become more substantiated. To say the climate science is settled is about like saying every weather forecast is 100 percent accurate. Let the process unfold on Climate Change Theory and let peer review play out as intended; however, the media will work to reinvent the evidence.
Can data be manipulated to support a point of view? Yes. But that is where the media are trying to shape the scientific process. The goal of the media should just report information, not to influence the scientific process. Scientific theories build upon other theories in science thus making the theory more accepted which further strengthens the discipline of other areas within science. For example, the cell theory is continually upheld by advances since the invention of the microscope. Learning how they reproduce and the nature at which cells communicates further supports the main principles of the theory since the 17th century.
Although Climate Change Theory has not been as well documented as compared to the Cell Theory, one must understand that if the data must be collected in order for trends to be observed to reject or support the theory. The theory should be reviewed and challenged in order to substantiate the strength of the observable data, but to say that science is settled destroys the very foundation of its acceptance in science in society. As a theory tries to grow to acceptance, there will be challenges to it. Is that not the essence of the scientific process?
Accept the skepticism of scientific theories; don’t mock people who challenge it with credible evidence. Never dismiss anything in science. If it was not for the AIDS virus, and the firestorm of how to prevent and treat the disease, society would not have some of the most effective cancer medications in our lifetime. If it was not for many attempts to care for wounded soldiers in World War I, Alexander Fleming would not have come up with the first antibiotic. If Fleming did not challenge the medical community on the antiseptics it was using at that time, which killed more people than it helped, there would be no penicillin discovery.
Science is a process which is suppose to challenge the basic ideas of a theory -iron sharpens iron. Science is not a faith and it should not be portrayed as an ideology.