How science works and other philosophical musings

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Real science vs. textbook science

By Dr. Luisa Rebull

  • Science (history) as presented in textbooks may seem a never-ending series of right answers. Real science has a lot of dead ends as we struggle to find out what the ‘right answer’ is.
  • Science problems in textbooks have well-defined problems, specific methods you’re supposed to use to solve them, and right (exact) answers (1.2 can be wrong when 1.3 is right). Real science is not quite “made up as you go along” but it may feel that way in the coming days. Different people approach the same problem in different ways, and many answers can be right (1.2 and 1.3 can both be right). This is not the same as 'there is no right answer.' There is a right answer. But, the only way you know it’s the right answer is if you believe that everything you did to get there is right. Take a moment and really think about that. That's probably a paradigm shift in the way you normally approach science. Throughout science (and probably life in general), you should always be thinking about what you're doing, and not doing anything blindly just because someone tells you to do so.

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