Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Misfit Science

I find the political discussion about science to be rather ridiculous (as a science fiction writer, I would hope I would not need to explain my position on science). I hear arguments that science isn't exact, they keep changing their minds.... WTF. You think religion doesn't do this? Then explain to me how we have more than 10 major denomination of Christianity, at least 3 of Judaism, 3 of Islam, and at least 2 of Buddhism. And those are just the major division and don't even count the differences of opinion within each of those.

Yeah, science isn't exact. Why? Quite simple, it is the attempt by the collective of humanity to describe the world around them and an attempt to understand it and be able to predict future events. In some areas, it is so well understood that we can rely on it. The science behind space flight is accurate enough for us to send probes to the other planets (or dwarf planets in the case of Pluto) and have them reach their target. With the vast distances involved, that is nothing short of miraculous unless we truly do have it right.

What is hilarious is that so many who seem to oppose science rely so much on the products of science. Before they were common, every day items, cars, phones, computers, and a host of other items had to be developed. A great many of our modern conveniences came from the US Space program and were created by scientists using their understanding of the way things work.

This argument really comes down to ignorance vs. education. What many don't understand is that the education I speak of is not dependent on how many years you have spent in school. It is totally dependent on how willing you are to learn new things, to strive to understand, to explore, to delve into the mysteries of the world with an open mind. You can be in this world with five doctorates and be ignorant. You can have dropped out of school, barely be able to read, and be highly educated. It's not how much you have done, but how well you have done it. Education never stops and is not confined to one area. Even if we dedicate our lives to specializing in one very narrow field, we must be willing to expand our horizons when challenged.

Another aspect is questioning vs. accepting. Education involves questioning everything. Accepting involves questioning nothing. There is a time for each, such as you should never question why someone loves you. But you should question everything you are told. As children we asked why incessantly and we should never let that go. Asking why is at the heart of science and education. When we cease to ask why, we cease to learn and ignorance sets in. The world is an every changing place and science is ever changing to go with it. Just when we understand one thing the universe does, it raises questions about others. By continuing to question and find the answers, we continue to understand more and more.

So the next time someone tells you something, ask why. Better yet, check into it from other sources and other political viewpoints. No piece of information in a vacuum is a fact. Facts have provenance and sources and data to back them up. Everything else is rumor and supposition and believing them without checking is the number one source of ignorance in the world.

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