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Does science have a purpose? (S/O of a S/O)

Posted by on Jun. 22, 2013 at 10:29 PM
  • 28 Replies

In another thread, someone asked an interesting question, worth a thread of its own:

So why does science spend enormous amounts of money to study universe or evolution?  How does knowing the earth is round help those starving in Africa?  Do you think the poor and homeless care about wasting money on global warming and reducing carbon?

What is the mission of science?

by on Jun. 22, 2013 at 10:29 PM
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Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jun. 22, 2013 at 10:31 PM

[ Just so we all work off the same definition of what "science" is... ]


The 'best practices' of the scientific community (sometimes known as the 'scientific method') is the community's collective wisdom on how not to fool itself, accumulated over generations by exerience of the flaws that can be introduced if any element of the method is left out.  The basic cycle, that can be carried out by one person in isolation is:

  STEP 0 : Start with an initial null hypothesis and make that your current hypothesis
  STEP 1 : Via thought and observation, generate a variant hypothesis that explains everything observed so far at least as well as your current hypothesis
  STEP 2 : Design an experiment for which your two hypothesis predict different outcomes
  STEP 3 : Carry out the experiment
  STEP 4 : If the variant won, make your variant the current champion.  Return to step 1 and keep challenging it until it either falls over and you have to replace it, or until you've tested it so strongly that you've gained lots of confidence in it.

However the wider method, and the one from which we gain confidence, stems from:

  STEP 5 : When you have confidence, publish your hypothesis, your data, and the experiements you carried out in sufficient detail that others can attempt to replicate your findings


The NAS considers "science" to be a body of knowledge (one that consists of objective observations, and disprovable explanations of those observations) tentatively agreed, over the years, by the consensus of working published scientists using those 'best practices'.

Some philosophers of science would consider the people, processes, instutitions and tools (eg journals) related to that body of knowledge to also be part of "science".

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jun. 22, 2013 at 10:47 PM

BUMP!

AdrianneHill
by Platinum Member on Jun. 22, 2013 at 10:52 PM
Bump
stormcris
by Christy on Jun. 22, 2013 at 10:52 PM
4 moms liked this

In relation to those starving in Africa, studies of evolution and the universe help to understand the impact of soil conditions and atmospheric changes throughout history in order to provide a better solution for poverty and growth via farming techniques and improvements in society. 

The mission of science is to improve the world through understanding and advancement.

kansasmom1978
by Bronze Member on Jun. 22, 2013 at 10:53 PM
1 mom liked this

I think science has a part in education, just like history and math. But I think we need to spend more time teaching kids and adults things that will directly affect their lives. I have never had to use Algebra in my life outside of high school. 

LaughCryLive
by Silver Member on Jun. 22, 2013 at 10:57 PM
I use algebra all the time.

Science helps people grow better crops, transport water, make the water safe, medical care, etc.
illinoismommy83
by Bronze Member on Jun. 22, 2013 at 11:01 PM
2 moms liked this

Do you think anyone will care about anything if we destroy the planet and all die off?

We, as humans, are studying all topics. There are teams of researchers studying things you find useless but others find vital. How are we going to cure world hunger if we do not study new food alternatives?

The mission of science is to come up with theories that will better the world as a whole. Just because you do not have cancer does not mean curing it is not vital. Just because you do not have a mental illness does not mean studies on ways to help the mentally ill are not important. 

You do not have to understand the higgs boson. It DOES concern you, and yes, it will not cure world hunger, but understanding everything in the universe isn't a waste of time. We should study everything possible and learn as much as we can!

Do you just like, wander through life going "la la la la la" and never wonder about anything? As long as you are fed, you are happy?

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jun. 22, 2013 at 11:44 PM
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Quoting illinoismommy83:

You do not have to understand the higgs boson. It DOES concern you, and yes, it will not cure world hunger, but understanding everything in the universe isn't a waste of time.

Interestingly, the World Wide Web was invented as a by-product of the search for fundamental particles.   Tim Berners-Lee wrote it while at CERN, in order to help organise the data they were producing.

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jun. 22, 2013 at 11:47 PM
2 moms liked this
Quoting stormcris:

In relation to those starving in Africa, studies of evolution and the universe help to understand the impact of soil conditions and atmospheric changes throughout history in order to provide a better solution for poverty and growth via farming techniques and improvements in society. 

And without knowing that the Earth was round, or having studied the universe, we wouldn't have the satellites over Africa that provide much needed communication links and weather forecasts.

JanetMonroe1991
by Bronze Member on Jun. 23, 2013 at 2:31 AM

I don't think this is an interesting question at all. I think this is a silly pointless question. Of course it has a place. 

I think that questions like this, just prove that just when I think I have reached rock bottom with how stupid people can be, some jerk throws me a shovel and says nope keep digging, things can get more stupid. 

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