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Tuesday, June 24, 2008
What is REAL science?


On this blog, we advocate for the teaching of REAL science in public school science classrooms.

But what is REAL science?

REAL science...

Recognizes its limits - Science only works with phenomena that can be independently verified by observations or empirical tests. This is a practical approach to the study of the natural world that has proven to be extremely conducive to the advancement of scientific knowledge. Since this approach does not rule out the existence of non-verifiable phenomena, any claims about the existence or non-existence of such phenomena are not scientific.

Enriches our understanding of the universe - Science enhances our appreciation of ourselves and of the world around us. It does not attempt to supplant or displace other ways of knowing, such as philosophy, religion, or ethics. Knowledge gained through scientific investigation is transferable to other contexts, but science does not invalidate other modes of human inquiry.

Approximates reality - Science is not an attempt to prove hypotheses, but rather an attempt to falsify them. The purpose of a scientific model is to provide a conceptual framework that guides and directs future research. Although all foundational scientific models have been extensively tested, no scientific model should ever be viewed as absolute truth. All scientific models are tentative and subject to potential modification as new empirical evidence becomes available.

Leads to new knowledge - Science is a systematic approach to developing physical, mathematical, and conceptual models for understanding the natural world. The best scientific models are those that have both explanatory and predictive power. In other words, scientific models should not only explain what is currently known, they should routinely generate new hypotheses for further research.

Everyone in this debate wants a better world, and we can all benefit from the knowledge gained through the application of the scientific method. When it comes to science education, our goal should be to teach our children to understand and appreciate the scientific method so that it can be utilized for the benefit of all humanity. Consequently, we must not allow the quality of science education in our public schools to be compromised by the current culture war concerning who holds "the Truth."

We have an obligation to our children to pursue only the best available science. We should accept nothing less than REAL science in our public school science classrooms.




posted by Jeremy Mohn



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Scientific criticism originates within the scientific literature, not outside of it.
© Jeremy Mohn, 2006