From this website I was introduced to one of the best explanations of how science works. Thanks to Brian for the link.
Science is an area of study where the means justify the ends. You shouldn’t start with a conclusion that you like, and then form an argument around it (that’s why I’ve never liked literary analysis). The scientifically correct procedure is to follow approved and tested methods, and see what conclusion comes out of that.
Apply this idea to your assessment of credibility. In addition to investigating the expertise and relevant education of the source, ask yourself whether they’re following the scientifically accurate method of gathering evidence first, or if they’ve started by choosing a politically acceptable conclusion to stick to no matter what.
Does the National Academy of Sciences study science by starting with hard data and evidence, or by starting with a conclusion that they like?
What about the Heartland Institute?
This is a really good concept. I’ve never heard (seen?) anything quite like it.
Kate – love the blog; your insights into the scientific process are great.
I think you might enjoy the following paper – it discusses many of the myths about science that are promoted in the way high school science is often taught:
Click to access TheMythsOfScience.pdf
Wow, that was a fascinating article, and I’ve come up against all those myths at one point in my schooling. It was worse in elementary school, where the “scientific method” was really drilled into us. It loosens up a lot upon entering high school, but when you’re raised with certain paradigms, it can be hard to shake them. I thought science was the most boring and least creative occupation in the world until I started high school.
David Suzuki writes some really interesting stuff about the “scientific method” – I believe this essay was in The David Suzuki Reader – he talks about how his son was fascinated with bugs and the outdoors as a child, which is essentially scientific creativity. Then he started school and had to follow the “scientific method” and thought science was really boring. It was a really well written article that got me thinking.
Thanks for your insights, hope you’ll keep coming back.
The link to “this website” appears to be broken (404 Not Found).
Steve…great link to that pdf! I’ll have to incorporate some of that into my first-year biology lecture next week.