This is a blog about science. But, it’s not necessarily about telling people what mother nature is like, or reporting on new discoveries from the frontiers. Instead, it’s about how scientists think and how they approach problems. It is about critical thinking, skepticism, evidence, knowing and learning.
In particular, what is the point of doing science? Why bother doing experiments and looking for evidence? What’s the point of learning all that math? It sounds like hard work and most of us get along just fine without it. Shouldn’t we just leave those hard tasks to the eggheads in the ivory towers and go about our day? All of the answers are on Google these days. Why waste the time and effort?
I actually think there is a point. The theme of this blog is to explore the worthwhile aspects of applying careful, disciplined reasoning to life’s problems. For most people, science is not a career destination. So, many teachers and students are left dealing with the question: what’s the point of understanding how science works if you aren’t going to do it for your job? I hope to explore answers to that question. Hopefully, students and teachers of science (and life) can chime in with their thoughts along the way.
The short answer to the question is that learning about science is the best way to learn to be comfortable reasoning through problems when there is uncertainty. We aren’t born knowing how to proceed through uncertain waters. People are prone to making mistakes. For many people, it can cause a great amount of stress and anxiety. But, you wont get many tools for dealing with uncertainty in school. Most of the problems you encounter in school have a right answer and there is a straightforward procedure for getting to it that you can read about in the textbook. These problems are easy to teach and students learn to solve them quickly, so we fill up our education system with them.
After all of our schooling, we are getting pretty good at solving textbook problems from school. Instead, lets explore the realm of ‘real’ problems, where you aren’t seeking out the one ‘true’ answer, but just trying to make better sense of things without all the information you’d like.