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View Diary: Why People Distrust Science (250 comments)

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  •  What you're talking about (1+ / 0-)
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    is taught from a very early age.  I'm talking about something far more complicated and sophisticated.  The "scientific method" is a kind of simplified myth.  It doesn't really describe hypothesis building, experiment construction, nor the laboratory.  Americans tend to have a very poor understanding or laboratory work, hypothesis construction, and experiment construction.  This isn't so much because a massive failure of education, but because these things require pretty advanced knowledge to be done well.

    Take hypothesis construction.  In school you're taught that the first step of the scientific method consists in proposing a hypothesis or explanation for a particular phenomenon.  But that's not at all how hypothesis construction really works in the sciences.  Formulating a hypothesis always requires advanced knowledge of the scientific discipline in question.  It doesn't consist in proposing just any old explanation, but a proposal within the theoretical paradigm of the science.  That requires expert knowledge within the paradigm.  Constructing the experiment is an even more complicated task.  It requires the creation of instruments and technologies (which itself requires all sorts of knowledge), the creation of closed environments (where possible) to unambiguously trigger events, and so on.  Then there's the issue of compiling, measuring, and interpreting the data which can take years as in the case of super-colliders and drug trials.  It's not until relatively late in education that one has the requisite knowledge and training to do these things.  What's taught as the "scientific method" in school is a kind of pedagogical myth that gives people an inkling of what's going on in science, but which isn't truly reflective of what real science is about.

    •  I think you overcomplicate it (1+ / 0-)
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      (And for the record, I do have advanced training in Science™)

      You need expert knowledge within the area to do publishable science. Not to do science.

      It's perfectly reasonable and appropriate that kids are doing experiments where the result is well known and not publishable.

      Learning what assumptions are safe to make and not safe to make, and figuring out ways to make fewer assumptions, is in fact the core of what makes a proficient scientist, mathematician, or engineer, and it's really an ongoing process.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 04:41:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wasn't suggesting (0+ / 0-)

        otherwise. I was trying to outline why scientific literacy is so abysmal in the general population.  You'll find similar illiteracy in other first tier countries.  It's not restricted to us.  Why?

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