What is science?


People often think that science is just a collection of facts, possibly because this is how the subject is taught in schools1. As a young student, I had to memorize things like the parts of cells or flowers and didn’t fully appreciate the process of science until my Ph.D. studies. 

This situation is unfortunate because science is so much more than just facts. It is a way of thinking and it is exciting. Really! 

At one time, you probably learned the parts of an animal cell. But science is much more than this.

Science is a way of asking questions about the natural world that can be answered through observations or experiences that can be replicated

Natural sciences, like physics, chemistry, and biology and social sciences, like economics are all underneath the umbrella of science.

Science can be used to answer questions like: How does pesticide runoff from cropland affect insect communities in nearby streams? How do gut bacteria affect human behavior? Does extending unemployment benefits discourage people from looking for work? What are the human health consequences of nuclear weapons?

Science is not useful for moral or aesthetic judgments and cannot answer questions like: What should I name the cat? What is the meaning of life? What is the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies? 

Science is an iterative, ongoing process

The scientific method is an iterative process to gather new knowledge and refine (or revise), and integrate existing knowledge. 

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