is a philosophy discussion group. We meet on the 3rd Tuesday of every month
from 7.30 to 9.30pm
in the The Bull
in Tanners Street. We cover a large range of topics
. There's no charge for membership and everyone is welcome to drop in. Just bring your brain and some beer money!
What is Science?
Most people, even educated ones, think that they know what science is, but they don't really, except at a superficial level. This is the main reason why so many people still endorse, not only faith, but also pseudo-science, bad science and junk-science as a source of knowledge. They can be confused by journalists, politicians, statistics, the internet, etc. and even become totally anti-science. We cannot have a sensible debate involving science without first understanding properly what it is.
'Pithies' on science
- A selection of 'Pithies' about science
- A 'pithy' is a saying, quote or aphorism. These are all about science and the scientific method. Copy them and pin them on your wall!
So---What is science?
- Defining science
- A definition of science for kids
- so we should all be able to understand it!
- Science (Wikipedia article)
- A good overview of science from Wikipedia “Science (from Latin scientia, meaning 'knowledge') is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe”
- What is science?
- Definition for school kids.
- What is science?
- Article from the web site of the University of Georgia.
- What is science?
- What is this thing we call science?
- “Britain's Science Council has spent the past year working out a new definition of the word 'science'. But how does it measure up to the challenge of intelligent design and creationism?”
- What is Nature?
- From the 'Understanding Science' web site for school kids.
What science isn't
- What Science Isn't
- Science is the concerted effort by very real human beings to understand the history of the natural world and how the natural world works. Science isn't art; it isn't Technology; it isn't Truth; its isn't certainty; and it isn't Religion or a religion.
- Science has limits: a few things that science does not do
- A guide for kids explaining how science cannot determine ethical decisions etc.
- Understanding and using the scientific method
- A guide for schools.
- Scientific method (Wikipedia article)
- To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.
- Scientific method
- “The Scientific Method is a logical and rational order of steps by which scientists come to conclusions about the world around them. The Scientific Method helps to organize thoughts and procedures so that scientists can be confident in the answers they find.”
- Scientific Method according to Karl Popper
- Popper proposed an alternative scientific method based on falsification. However many confirming instances there are for a theory, it only takes one counter observation to falsify it.
- Pseudoscience (Wikipedia article)
- Pseudo-science is a perjoritive term for a belief or practice that fails to adhere to valid scientific method and for which there is no supporting evidence. An amusing example of pseudo-science is 'Pyramidology'. The 'demarcation problem' deals with how to distinguish authentic science from fake science.
- Junk science (Wikipedia article)
- A pejorative term indicating that scientific research has been driven by political, ideological or financial motives.
- Fringe science (Wikipedia article)
- Research that departs from mainstream scientific ideas.
- Cargo cult science (Wikipedia article)
- A term coined by the physicist Richard Feynman. Feynman cautioned that to avoid becoming cargo cult scientists, researchers must avoid fooling themselves, be willing to question and doubt their own theories and their own results, and investigate possible flaws in a theory or an experiment.
- Mystical Physics, Cult Physics, Quack Physics and Bogus Physics
- The past couple of decades has seen the appearance of a number of best-selling books asserting that the so-called 'new physics' reveals the underlying mechanisms of nature whereby supposedly paranormal feats like mind-reading are possible. In addition they show that the most recent discoveries of physics provide a firm scientific basis for many of the concepts associated with the mystical religions of the East.
- Antiscience (Wikipedia article)
- People holding antiscientific views do not accept that science is an objective method or that it generates universal knowledge. They contend that scientific reductionism in particular is an inherently limited means to reach understanding of the complex world we live in.
- Criticism of science (Wikipedia article)
- Criticism of science is distinct from the academic positions of antiscience or anti-intellectualism which seek to reject entirely the scientific method. Rather, criticism is made to address and refine problems within the sciences in order to improve science as a whole, and its role in society.
- The Sokal affair (Wikipedia article)
- In the 1996 Alan Sokal, an American physics professor, submitted a hoax article salted with nonsense to 'Social Text', an academic journal of postmodern cultural studies. He then claimed in subsequent publications that the submission was an experiment to test the journal's intellectual rigor. This gave rise to 'The Science Wars'.
- Science wars (Wikipedia article)
- A series of intellectual exchanges, in the 1990s, between scientific realists and postmodernist critics, about the nature of scientific theory and intellectual inquiry.
Science and Culture
- Science plc
- Science and business are more entangled than ever before. This may good for economic growth, but can be bad for scientific authority. A public which loses faith in the ability of its scientists to be impartial, whether that loss of faith is warranted or not, is likely to gradually lose faith in science itself.
- Politicization of science (Wikipedia article)
- The manipulation of science for political gain. It occurs when government, business, or advocacy groups use legal or economic pressure to influence the findings of scientific research or the way it is disseminated, reported or interpreted.
- Science and the X-Files
- In this BBC Richard Dimbleby Lecture (1996) Richard Dawkins complains that a healthy enthusiasm for the unknown is being abused by the media's obsession with the paranormal. To fight back, real science must move from the laboratory into the culture.
- A question of trust
- The complexity of science and the mechanisms by which it can be investigated and communicated are presenting us with new challenges. Science has never been simple and the more we know the more questions arise. Some latch on to these questions and uncertainties to try and discredit the evidence. They now have the internet to increase their impact. Challenge is integral to the scientific process but it is only valid if it is evidence-based.
- Science as an open enterprise report (PDF)
- The 'Science as an Open Enterprise' report (Royal Society 2012) highlights the need to grapple with the huge deluge of data created by modern technologies in order to preserve the principle of openness and to exploit data in ways that have the potential to create a second open science revolution.
- Standing up for Science (PDF)
- A guide to the media for early career scientists
"We asked scientists at different stages in their careers to tell us about their media experiences; the good, the bad and the ugly. Although experiences were mixed, they all agreed that it is important for all scientists to have an understanding of how the media works and for scientists to get involved in public discussion.
Science and Religion
- Science and religion: Reconcilable differences
- “With the loud protests of a small number of religious groups over teaching scientific concepts like evolution and the Big Bang in public schools, and the equally loud proclamations of a few scientists with personal, anti-religious philosophies, it can sometimes seem as though science and religion are at war.”
Ruminations on science
- Why is there scientific law at all?
- A scientist speculates
- Scientific Assumptions
- Science, like most human activities, is based on a belief, namely the assumption that nature is understandable.