I love science. I know a lot of people say that. But I’ve come to find that many don’t actually know what science is.
So I asked my friends–a great bunch of scientists and science advocates–to tell me what it means to actually “fucking love science”.
Here is what they said.
Dan Mitch of The Mind Restrained
Questioning your own views and understanding that you need to support those views.
You really enjoy questioning your own views, and most importantly, when you find something that challenges your views you get over the uncomfortable feeling and address it.
Robert Sacerich of Rationality Unleashed
Being just as fascinated by a failed experiment as by a successful one, and understanding the implications of that.
Dan Broadbent of A Science Enthusiast
A willingness to be wrong, admit that you were wrong, and change your opinion based on new information.
Max Katz of Banned by Food Babe
I use this phrase in our tax appeals work all the time. It’s from The Appraisal of Real Estate, 14th ed.:
‘An appraisal is the logical application of available data to reach a value conclusion.’
To draw this out of the legal application and put it more broadly in reference to your question, I’d say that I enjoy science because it does this.
It’s the logical application of available data to reach a conclusion.
Mark Alexander Sevilla of Do you even science, Bro
When you really love science, you love all the work, the data, the analysis and the rush from discovering something unexpected, whether new information or upturning previously held conclusions.
Iida Ruishalme of Thoughtscapism
When you love science you acknowledge its flaws. It’s messy, slow, and convoluted. But you also know you wouldn’t want to live with anyone else in your life.
Science makes you a better person, and shows you the world in a more fascinating way than you could have imagined.
#SciNurse, member of the Sciborg that moderates SciBabe
The process. The process is always there. When you succeed or fail, you can always go back and look at the process.
Where did it go wrong? Where did it go right?
I see it at work–after every Code Blue, we debrief. What were the labs, what was the heart rhythm, diagnosis, underlying issues, where in the process of this patient-did something go wrong. What did we do to ensure the best outcome.
That–to me–is science. And I fucking love it.
- You accept science you don’t want to be true. On many levels I don’t want climate change to be real. I want to to be a hoax or a mistake. But it isn’t. So too bad for me.
- You realize science is hard and you won’t understand 99.99% of it. That is OK. Many scientific papers have titles like this: “Hispolon inhibits TPA-induced invasion by reducing MMP-9 expression through the NF-?B signaling pathway in MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells.” Do you understand that? Me neither. So I probably should not argue with the people who do.
- You recognize that even if you consider yourself a skeptic and are aware of cognitive biases, you still have them. We all use motivated reasoning even if we don’t like it.
Alison Bernstein of Mommy, PhD
In science, you maintain the sense of wonder about the world that kids have. You constantly ask questions and by doing science you get to answer them and learn something new that no one has ever known before. Science provides a constant source of awe.
So. You Love Homeopathy, Psychic Healing, or Amber Teething Necklaces?
Those things are not supported by rigorous scientific inquiry.
So you don’t love science. Yet.
But you may some day if you learn more, and pick up some good science habits.
Good Science Habits
- Learn about science in whatever field of your choice. There are many: chemistry, biology, physics, geology, climatology, astronomy, and more.
- Learn about the people behind scientific discovery.
- Learn the scientific method:
- observe a phenomenon and ask a question
- formulate a hypothesis
- conduct an experiment to test the hypothesis
- analyze the results
- make a conclusion
- repeat steps 3-5
- Understand that “research” means something very specific in science fields, and does not (usually) involve Google. It requires discovery, not confirmation of bias.
- Be able to identify credible sources.
- Ask others for citations on their claims.
- Provide citations for your claims, from credible sources.
- Read the papers by people who do original research.
- Know that not everything that looks like scientific research was conducted without bias.
- Never trust a single study. Look for repeatable and repeated results.
So how do you know you actually love science? Tell me in the comments.