What is science?
Consider the following modern definition of "science":
Science is a process for producing knowledge. The process depends both on making careful observations of phenomena and on inventing theories for making sense out of those observations. Change in knowledge is inevitable because new observations may challenge prevailing theories. . . Scientists assume that even if there is no way to secure complete and absolute truth, increasingly accurate approximations can be made to account for the world and how it works.
- According to this definition, what are the key characteristics of science?
- Has this definition characterized all the "science" of past centuries?
Consider the following definition of "scientific method":
systematic, controlled observation or experiment whose results lead to hypotheses, which are found valid or invalid through further work, leading to theories that are reliable because they were arrived at with initial open-mindedness and continual critical skepticism.
- What characterizes "scientific method" in this definition?
- Has this "method" remained the same over the centuries?
- Do all sciences use the same methods?
Consider these statements about how science is portrayed in textbooks:
Through learning textbook science, one is misled about the nature of scientific activity by learning only about the relatively successful science, the things that have remained within science up to the present. . . Through learning from the scientific textbooks, one is liable to learn the misconceived view that science uses the scientific method, which is responsible for the success of science.
Henry H. Bauer, Scientific Literacy and the Myth of the Scientific Method (1992)
- How might science textbooks distort how scientific ideas develop?
- What does you suppose the author means by the "Myth of the Scientific Method"?