So what is Science?

“We live in a world where science and technology are central to our lives, but often remote from our understanding.” ~ Paul Callaghan (p.11)

“So what is science?” Professor Sir Paul Callaghan asks; “I like Lewis Wolpert’s view the best. It is a way of looking at the world that tries to explain natural phenomena in terms of underlying causes in a way which is self-consistent and corresponds with reality. …There is no agreed definition of science and we scientists get on perfectly well without one. We have just two requirements: all debates are settled in the end by evidence and all ideas and theories have to be consistent with all the evidence we have.

There is no authority in science apart from evidence. No idea is true because the person proposing it is important.” (p.11)

Numbers lie at the heart of science, and we have to know what the numbers mean and what they do not mean.” (p.11)

Science is sceptical and always questioning. Wolpert has another definition of science that sums this scepticism beautifully. ‘Science is a means of discovering knowledge that defies common sense.’ …Evolution confounds common sense. Newton’s laws confound common sense. And that is what makes science seem too foreign to so many people. And so in communicating science we need to appeal to a basic human yearning to know and to understand our context. What is nature? How does it work? What is life? …But science has one overriding strength that assists it in its task to overcome our common sense and communicate its beauty and excitement. Central to the values of science is the imperative that ideas must be expressed with the utmost clarity, economy and simplicity. Nature is complicated enough without our trying to make it appear more so.” (p.11)

Science is an intensely social activity, done in partnership, in teams, in the context of the knowledge generated by others.” (p.11)

Ref: Paul Callaghan (2012) Science is vital for good citizenship New Zealand Science Teacher 129, pp.11-12

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About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
This entry was posted in Literate Contexts, Science education, Understanding literacy, Understanding numeracy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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