Defined Words: science, trial and error, wisdom, measurements, theory, experiment

Our discussion of science cannot begin until we first define what science is and that means addressing the definition we’ve already given to it. Many of us see “science” as a school subject that is filled with too many vocabulary words and complicated math equations. Science was probably a difficult subject for you to learn because the concepts are hidden beneath all that math and classification.

Many of us learned science for no other reason than to pass an exam which means the math and vocabulary were all we really needed to study. So many of us just glanced over concepts and that’s the worst part. I want to take this time to apologize on behalf of how science has been taught over the last few decades: I’m sorry.

Science is the process of taking several previous observations to determine a causality which will allow the scientist to predict future events. You use science in every trial and error experiment you run: anything from matching shapes to getting into a relationship. You use your previous experiences to learn from your past and use that to improve for next time. You are a scientist any time you learn from your mistakes, or anyone else’s for that matter.

We often relate science to the natural world because nature follows a specific energetic pattern that can be predicted. Humans are a little more complicated but that doesn’t mean science doesn’t apply. We must simply stay in the testing process for much longer before we can state causality as an unbreakable law. You gain wisdom as you age because you have more data points to determine causality. The similarity of many wise lessons indicates a trend toward a more universal causality: closer to a scientific law.

I’m not upset with science, just with how it has been taught. Another huge part of current science is the use of units and classifications. It’s important to remember that all units and classifications are made up. They are all created by humans to allow for easier communication of ideas or conversion of units to usable measurements.

Our specificity of measurements allows us to use math, another placeholder, to make complex predictions that still follow the basic rules that we’ve discovered about our world. There is definitely an advantage to using math and terms to discuss very complex processes in our universe, even if it isn’t fun to practice in school. The terms and units are also so institutionalized in our language and society that they cannot really be redone. We must work with what we’ve already built.

Unfortunately, many words of science have also become common in the culture. The common use of words, plus human’s tendency to be wrong, minimizes the severity of the word. Science is all about measurement and description to the strictest letter possible. Without that mentality it couldn’t be nearly as accurate as it is!

The most dangerous misunderstanding comes from the word theory. Common language has taken this to translate to a “guess” or a “rough idea.” Science uses the word theory to describe an idea that’s been tested over and over again and has continuously come up correct. The only reason there is a difference between a theory and a law is because a theory still has unknowns.

Humans that choose to disbelieve scientific theories are unaware of the scientific definition of the word. A theory is right. You wouldn’t jump out your window because you know gravity is no joke. There is a 100% chance you will fall to the ground but gravity is still a “scientific theory.” The reason it’s still a theory is because they just found gravity waves and are freaking out about the implications. You don’t need to understand how those waves work for gravity to affect you, just like you don’t need to understand the theory of evolution to exist.

Think of a theory as a puzzle with the majority filled in. If you were to walk by, you could see the basic picture. However, the few pieces remaining might combine to blow your mind and change the entire picture.

We can also use large quantities of observations to make predictions based on specific trends in any field of study using statistics and math. With this definition of science, using previous observations to determine causality, it is clear that everything has become a science.

Businessmen look at the previous trends of the market to make decisions. Fashion designers use previous styles and current trends to develop the next big thing. Game developers use the successes and failures of previous games. Professional athletes observe hours of film to be better for the next game. If you are working to get better by using previous experiences and observations, you are a scientist.

Here’s my favorite part of being a scientist: SCIENCE MEANS IT IS OKAY TO BE WRONG. The scientific method starts when you make a hypothesis: a statement that claims a result due to a cause. Your statement has a 50% chance of being right and a 50% chance of being wrong until you test it and find out. The process of determining whether you’re right or wrong is called an experiment.

Regardless of whether you are right or wrong, you have still gained information. If you were right, you learned you were right; awesome! If you were wrong, you learned that there is something else that is right. In fact, being wrong can cause you to learn even more than being right.

Science allows us to be unafraid of being wrong because we know there is information to be gained either way. A scientist and romantic expert will both say “It’s going to be wrong every time until it’s not.” Enjoy the experience along the way.

Science is the mindset of learning from the past to determine the future. Science also has a requirement to question everything and follow only the observed evidence. If you question everything you’ve been told, even question what you already believe, you can learn and accept the truth about what you are, how your world works and how to become anything you want to be.

Science is more than just a couple of classes that many students struggle with; science is a mindset and a way of life. Science allows us to sift through all of the stories and get to the truth. When you understand how something works, all of it, you can control it. That’s why we study and why we look back: so we can move forward in the best possible path.