What is Science?
At heart, I think it is safe to say, most of us are labelers. We like to attach labels to things, it makes us feel comfortable and makes us think that we have a better understanding of something if we can label it. In fact, I am one of them. I like labels. It seems to make things orderly and less cluttered.
Labeling the tangible things around us is easy. Dog, cat, desk, chair and so on, are things that we all recognize and even though we may not know all about them, we safe and comfortable with these categorizations. When we make the transition to the intangibles, the concepts around us it gets tougher. The interpretations of our intangibles can haunt us. Even more difficult is when we label systems of thought, things like religions, methods, ways of thought and philosophies. This is where we wind up in deep water. In fact, much of human conflict can be laid at the feet of the interpretations of the labeling of such concepts. Religious wars have been fought for millennia, with both antagonists invoking their particular god to support the side of the just and the god fearing and bring down the heathen bastards, even though an outsider to both groups would be hard pressed to differentiate the two concepts of god.
And so it is that we label not only what is tangible, but what is tangible, ideas, concepts and philosophies. And some would say that this labeling of the intangibles, the nebulous fruit of our oversized brains is what separates us from all the other creatures with whom we share this increasingly hot planet. And among the myriad of ideas, concepts, self delusions and cerebral entities we have imagined, one stands out far and away the most powerful, consistent and real. Scientific Method.
This concept, dallied with for millennia, when what were arguably the greatest minds in history, during the Renaissance, put the finishing touches on the most powerful conceptual methodology in human thought. This concept allowed us to venture from the spectrum of speculation, argument and hyperbole, and enter into an era where, fact after fact, was tested, proven, put into place like a cerebral brick, constructing, unerringly the scientific edifice we have today. It is powerful and inexorable. Nothing has worked like scientific method in all our long history. It gave birth to something called technology and has led us to the place, for good or bad, where we are today.
Now we are beset with the ills of our success, begat by scientific method, misused by those who see no end to the resources of a finite world. Scientific method gave us the power to abuse a world, now tells us how to correct those self inflicted ills. But, more’s the tragedy that in a time when need the power and advice of our hard won methodology, fewer and fewer understand how it works. Pseudo science abounds as vested interests permute and distort scientific method for their own short sighted ends and most cannot tell the difference. Does it matter? Now that time precious and running short, we need to understand the voices of science and differentiate those from the braying chorus of quackery, obfuscation and stupid.
Newton, Galileo, Einstein et al, peer reviewed, tested, assembled the greatest ideas and concept in human history under the name of scientific method. It might be worth our while to look up from our play stations and kaleidoscopic addictions and learn what it was that made the Renaissance the Renaissance.
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