Doing Science part 2

by Fernando Caracena ©2021 Fernando Caracena

Honesty and Freedom of Speech

The first part of doing science is to maintain strict honesty in reporting findings and data. Good science requires discussions to be free and open. At the beginning of an experimental study, a number of opposing opinions exist. Findings dictate which are more correct.

Freedom of speech is a necessary requirement for doing real science. Appeal to authority is medieval, which ended way back there with the Inquisition. We not only have the tendency to fool others, but also, to fool ourselves. We need a way to see the truth better despite these human failings and root out pet, but false ideas that we tend to favor in the face of contrary evidence. Big, powerful interests wanting to protect ideas that maintain their power, will sometime martial strong measures to defend their false rationalizations; may use huge amounts of money; and may resort to murder. In science, bad ideas must be cast off like garbage. This process is necessary to keep the thoughts of science pure, clear and workable. Once someone who calls himself a scientist is caught in lies and fraud, that person is totally discredited as a scientist.

Advancing Closer to the Truth

What we know as truth is really an approximation of the truth. This is especially true in natural science, which is based on evidence provided by the senses and their extensions. Advancement into scientific truth results in progressively better approximations of the truth. In advancing deeper in to truth, we need a way to overcome our own prejudices and finding better approximations of the truth than what we started with.

The advancement of science is driven by the turn of a three-spoked wheel, which is employed also in advanced business development. The whole process is described by the following three processes: plan, execute, and evaluate. This cyclic process is used in any area of human effort which aims to advance into the unknown. Progress is rendered along a line of contact with the circular turn of this wheel.

Entry into an area of scientific research begins through the evaluation part of the cycle. A graduate student, for example, who wants to prepare to enter an area of research will read the scientific literature and he and his advisor will do an evaluation of where the science has advanced and where it is deficient. From this preliminary evaluation they will plan how to do further research on the topic. The execution part of the cycle may involve doing an experiment. A theoretical project may involve developing a theory to be tested by existing or by new experiments. Or it may involve developing a computer model, etc.

What is involved in all of this is to keep an objective view, recording all data, whether it favors or does not favor proposed theories. Negative results are as valuable as positive results. Both favor the advance of science.

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