I see a lot of comments online whenever global warming or something is discussed along the lines of:
- Science is just a theory
- Science is just opinions
- Until you verify it for yourself, you don’t know.
I also see counter arguments like:
- You should just trust it.
While I admire people who’re trying to think critically and think that it should be encouraged, it does demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of how science works.
I blame the educational system for this.
We don’t teach a scientific way of thinking. Instead the student is supposed to memorize a bunch of facts that are true(ish).
(Technically they approach how reality works. They’re an easy to understand framework.)
But doesn’t rly understand why he/she needs to learn it or why it’s true. You just do it because some authority figure will fail you if you don’t.
This is caused by two problems:
- Understanding why things works the way they do is much more complex than memorizing something I tell you is true.
- The sheer volume knowledge we’re trying to upload in your head.
The problem w this is that people don’t care ab what they learn and the lesson we teach them is just learn this and assume it’s true. It makes them more gullible and ignorant, not less.
We should want to create a generation of critical thinkers who’re curious and independent enough to go out there and create value for the world (or their slice of the world.)
Instead we’re training people to be dependent conformist waiting for instructions. Which is why so many people are uncomfortable in this new economy where a degree doesn’t entitle you to anything anymore and where you have to pick yourself vs get picked by someone else. It’s scary to make things happen yourself if you spend 20+ yrs doing what you’ve told and being punished for questioning the system.
The people who claim that science is just ‘opinion’ (or a better word would be ‘guesses’ ) are not wrong.
But they do miss the point.
Science was developed after a long time of humans having a hard time separating good ideas from bad ideas.
They way we started to do that was by doing a few things:
We saw something.
We made a guess as to how it works.
We made a prediction based on that guess.
We checked to see if it panned out.
Most of the time it didn’t and we’d start over again.
Sometimes it did. That gave us confidence in our guess.
But here’s the key thing. We didn’t just say okay this is how it is, accept it. We said, let’s try to disprove each other. Each time when that disproving failed and some other scientists got the same result out confidence in that hypothesis (or guess) grew.
The Newtonian laws you’re taught in high school are in a sense false. Because our current understanding of how the world works is based on quantum mechanics.
However, the world we live in is a world filled w big things made up of a lot of particles w a relatively heavy mass moving relatively slow.
And in that world, the Newtonian laws provide an excellent approximation. No one will use QM to calculate the arch of a ball thrown.
So what does all this mean to you? Should you just believe science.
That is personal. You have to decide how confident you are based on the current scientific knowledge.
But in order to do so it’s best if you collect all (or much) of the data and try to avoid confirmation bias (only searching for what you want).
Science is a way of approaching the truth and eliminating our biases. THAT is what needs to be instilled in people so they can do the same.
This way instead of looking at 1 shady paper that says water can remember emotion. You see the body of work that indirectly makes that nonsensicle as well as all the papers that were unable to reproduce the same results.
The idea that you only can know what’s true if you see it yourself is a philosophical one, not a scientific one.
Because, we don’t see QM but because the predictions are so accurate our confidence grows.
And we’re very flawed biological systems so there’s an argument ab wether or not what you see is reality.
For example, a color is electromagnetic radiation with a frequency that’s within the frequency we call visible light. Certain frequencies are bounced off of objects and are reflected onto our retina where they change certain molecules and send a signal to our brain which interprets that frequency as a color.
So you can imagine a animal who ‘sees’ the same frequency as a different color.
Or what about the entire spectrum of electromagnetic radiation outside of visible light. We don’t see that, so does it then follow that it doesn’t exist?
One can also make the argument from the other side. Centrifugal force seems real to me. When I sit in a car it does feel as if a force is acting on me and pushing me outside.
While in reality that force doesn’t exist. Instead there’s a centripetal force making the car ‘seek the center’ but because Newton’s first law it feels like I’m being pushed out while actually my body wants to keep going straight while the car is being ‘pushed’ towards the center.
(An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the SAME DIRECTION unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.)
And then there’s the practical fact of you not being able to verify everything in the world. So you got to use some shortcuts and assume things if your confidence in them is strong enough.
However for the areas in your life that are important (for example your company), then that’s an area where it would be smart to reason from first principles and see if the market at scale is adopting false assumptions.