Skip to content

What is science and why is it so important?

The emergence of modern science was one of mankind’s greatest achievements. The scientific method has provided the accelerated production of evidence-based knowledge.

We can define science as:

“Body of knowledge composed of measurable or verifiable facts acquired through the application of the scientific method and generalized in laws or scientific principles”.

As Karl Popper pointed out, scientific knowledge is provisional. Theories must be able to be tested (repeatedly). Science only evolves through attempts to reject it (never through demonstration).

Application of the scientific method

Table adapted from Scientific method- CK12 Foundation. Example of the application of the scientific method

The robustness of a theory can be seen in the way its predictions repeatedly resist attempts to prove them wrong. However, it can never be considered true in absolute terms.

This paradigm shift has begun to challenge old practices that had never been rigorously tested, leveraging enormous advances in the most diverse areas.

Science in medicine

In medicine, for example, based on appealing theories (notably Humorism), bleeding (withdrawal of blood) has been a privileged method of treatment for millennia. At the beginning of the 19th century some of its negative effects began to be demonstrated, but by the beginning of the 20th century there were still hotspots of resistance in the medical community to this change.

Today it is recognised that this practice is generally counterproductive, and has contributed to many avoidable deaths. It is therefore practically set aside and is only used in very specific situations.

By following a rigorous (and predefined) set of procedures, we reduce the influence of our intuitions and beliefs, which inevitably tend to distort the “search for truth”.

However, even in science, because it is performed by humans, there are biases. For example, for ideological or religious reasons, for power and status disputes, or merely for excessive attachment to our intuitions.

Reality is complex and generally counter-intuitive. Often we are not prepared for it.

“Science is the acceptance of what works and the rejection of what does not work. This requires more courage than we can imagine”. – Jacob Bronowski

References:

Business dictionary. Definition. Science.

Ck12./scientific-method-in-physics

History. News. A brief history of bloodletting

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Scientific method. 

Today in Science history. Jacob Bronowski Quotes on Science

Gostou deste artigo? Apoie-nos no Patreon!

Comentários

No comment yet, add your voice below!


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up for our newsletter and receive our Pandemia Covid-19 study for free - Knowledge and perceptions of the Portuguese population