With people resisting vaccines returning to the news, I had to bump this post forward on my posting timetable.
Many definitions of science exists. Most, if not all, are variations on a theme. Mine is simple: The search for the explanation of what we observe in nature. Search, explanation, observe, and nature serve as the four key words defining science. I think of them as the what, why, how, and where of science.
To me, words as hypothesis, scientific method, controls, and others are important, but they also cloud a person’s impression with terms they lead them to misconceptions by over-generalizing.. But search, explanation, observe, and nature tells important aspect of what, why, who, and where of science.
That being said, the how of science is also important. From accurately recording data from direct observations to the following proper procedures in an experiment, the scientific process is a playbook with rules – and yes, there are officials that will examine what is done in order to verify the results and to make sure scientific standards are met.
The purpose of this post isn’t about hypotheses, data collection, and conclusions – well, not directly. This post examines an important aspect that many (if not most) people do not realize – verification.
Science is an appeal to the collective wisdom in order to build consensus. When a scientist or team of scientists announce a new discovery, a jury of their peers judge the claim. Not a collection of journalists, politicians, clergy, or random people off the street – a group of their peers. Geologists don’t judge information about a new vaccine. Neither do botanists, chemists, psychiatrists, physicists, or even the majority of biologists. Immunologists study the claim to either verify or discredit the new finding. Not just one group, but as many groups as possible. Not a group from the same lab, university, or institute, but by peers from all over the world.
In science, the burden of proof is on those making the claim – so it is the wisdom of the collective of specialists with PhDs that decide the validity. Verification is done at the geek level. Discrediting with evidence is part of the scientific process, therefore not a reason to find fault with science.
Verification is actually a continual process because something in the future may come forth to discredit what had been previously accepted. Verification is an important part of the scientific process – not a reason to find fault with science.
Continual verification is why science is based on evidence – and not on political, religious, cultural, or personal beliefs. The public should have faith in science because of faith in the process. If someone does not have faith in the process, they do not understand science. They are ignoring science in favor of a belief system outside of the scientific community. They are ignoring science as the poetry of reality.