Science is a wonderful and beautiful human invention. For centuries man lived in the world, and as we spread into the harsher climates of the world, we found that it was increasingly in our favor to know as much as we could about the world around us so that we could better control and predict its actions. From this point on it was recognized that intelligence was of some value. The ability to observe the movements, sounds, and smells of the world and deduce the cause of those phenomena became a premium. Skills like farming and tool crafting quickly became the true measure of worth when evaluating individuals as well as societies.
These early examples of use human intelligence as a multiplier of forces, could be considered a sort of proto-science. The blacksmith would be expected to take what he was taught by his master and improve upon his techniques and methods. The only way of accomplishing this was to careful keep track of the techniques used to craft a weapon and to observes the results. repeat the process using a modified techniques and see the improvement or the weakening. These men were the worlds first scientists.
Since then the field of science as seen rises and declines, as well as a whole host of different personalities. In Ancient Greece the “philosophers” were really just a new breed of scientist, concerning themselves with more social matters. Though that’s not to say that they didn’t invent their fair share of weapons and farming techniques. They all took in information from the world around them formed theories about how it worked and what forces drove them, and put those theories to the test. And this is what science is all about.
Science as we know it today, being performed by a bunch of degree holding professionals where white lab coats, is fairly new, but the driving principles are still the same. We seek to understand the universe we live in to better control it to our benefit and predict future events so that we can profit from them or at least protect ourselves from their dangers. In order to accomplish these ends we have crafted a set of minimum protocols to improve the efficiency of our efforts. First step is to find a phenomenon that has not been explained or whose explanation is lacking in some way. Then you collect as much data as you can about this phenomenon before you construct loose explanation that seems to fit all the data. Then the fun part begins, experimentation, this what brings most people to the field of science, and what almost everyone pictures when they think of”doing science”. This is also where most respected theories crash and burn, the experimental lab is littered with the corpses of thousands of scientific theories that were not back up by the data collected in a controlled environment. Only the strongest theories survive this process, and go on to be accepted by the scientific community.
This is the most important attribute of science, its ability to self correct. Since the only useful theories are the ones the repeatedly predict behaviors and outcomes, only theories that are correct survive. As soon as some evidence or data comes to light that does not conform to the theory the theory must be modified to include the new facts, and sometimes discarded altogether. If you ever see a scientist holding on to a theory in spite of evidence the contradicts that theory, you should not trust their scientific opinion. Now I just note that a contradictory argument is not the same as a contradictory piece of evidence. Arguments are a logical construct made from language and are inherently vulnerable to being twisted to suit any personal outlook.
The most awesome things that mankind has ever accomplished have come on the coattails of pioneering scientists. From the Great Wall and the Pyramids to space travel and nanotechnology, science and its practitioners have always been responsible from discovering the underlying principles that allowed us to do these great things. So when I hear debates about whether we should be researching a certain field or not, the concept seems ludicrous. We have now way of knowing what discovery will lead to which innovation. While it’s true that stopping all research would stop all abuse of scientific knowledge( the Atom Bomb, Chemical weapons, etc.)it would also mean the stop of all human improvements (penicillin, electricity, Tetris!). What needs to be more carefully regulated is not science but governments, its true that if it weren’t for the scientists involved the atomic bomb would never have been dropped on Japan, but it’s also true that it was the american government who founded them up gave them unlimited funds and told them to make them a bomb, and then actually used it!
Science is beautiful, for as simple a reason as that it describes the working of the most beautiful thing known to man, the Universe. Science isn’t destructive, or ugly, or greedy, or blasphemous, people are, and we don’t need science to help us in those areas either. We do however need science to help us rise above our lower nature and accomplish the greatness that our lighter halves aspire to.
And that’s my take on science.