chapter  3
11 Pages

Science like what it is done

WithJack Cohen, Graham Medley, Ian Stewart

Science is what scientists do, what children learn in the science class at school, and what the science textbooks contain. It is also what the media science correspondents tell about, and it is supposed to centre on what goes on in laboratories. Science is best thought of as a great variety of activities, deriving from a few kinds of enquiry in the Western world. There is a strange property of scientific learning: it destroys itself. Successive generations of scientists can be cleverer, but needing to know less, remember less. Science has several agreed ways of validating, or rejecting, new ideas. Science asks questions, and it has a small variety of ways to look for answers. These are observation, measurement, investigation and experiment. Different kinds of problems need different approaches for their solution, and one of the ways the experienced scientist knows which to use is that she’s got it wrong many times in the past.