Thursday, August 4, 2005

HOW SCIENCE IS USUALLY DONE

I see the prez has given his opinion on Intelligent Design. I have no problem with teaching this in a philosophy, history, or history of science class. I do have big problems with teaching it in any kind of experimental science class.

In an ideal world there is a way that science is done. I know that this is far from an ideal world but be patient with me. Calling something a theory doesn.t mean it hasn’t been proven. In a way it’s a carry over from the times that modern science was getting started.

Let me use the boiling temperature of water as an example. It.s something that can be tested using a thermometer and a barometer. Incidentally, this experiment probably was never done or at least published in Italy until after the influence of the Roman Church had begun to decline. You see both use something that the church said couldn’t exist-a vacuum. But, that’s a story for another day.

Say a curious scientist notices that when water is heated vapor comes off of it and if you heat it long enough it boils. He does this under controlled conditions, takes its temperature and gets a consistent result of 212 degrees. For the sake of argument, the scientist is English and lives in London. London is as close to see level as you can get.

Say our Englishman writes regularly to a colleague in the Scottish Highlands and he spends his time perched a thousand feet or so higher. He tries the same experiment but doesn’t get quite the same results. They scratch their heads and both write to a mutual friend perched on the top of a Swiss Alp. He tries the experiment and gets a different and lower temperature. Finally, one of them has a glowing light bulb moment and realizes that the decreased temperature is tied to the decrease in air pressure as elevation increases.

That’s how science is supposed to work. Someone gets an idea and designs an experiment to test it. The results are shared. Somebody else follows the same steps and either gets the same results or they don’t. At that point they hash it out, start over and work on it until the original results are either verified or they aren’t. Trying to force science to conform to a particular dogma only results in bad science. It doesn’t help faith either.

Claiming that there is more than one side to an argument and it's only fair to present all of them works in a philosophy class. It doesn't belong in science class.

6 comments:

sistercdr said...

Excellent entry.

oceanmrc said...

Yup.

lisaram1955 said...

You are preaching to the choir here, sister...  Lisa  :-]

martnessmonstr said...

Very well said, clear , concise, even I can understand it.( Gravity is a theory too, hang on to your hats and bar stools.)

Still, if I were a science teacher , I think it would be neat to give a week or so, to all the creationist stories, from all cultures and religions. I don't think the religious wrong , I mean right, would like that though.

ibspiccoli4life said...

Such a great explanation. And I agree, it would be great if they took a moment to teach all the many and wonderful different creation stories.

dave

hope5555 said...

Even though I'm a Christian and to believe there is a Creator (or Designer), the anti-evolution people really bug me with trying to include their point of view in science classes.  It scares me because I see our country going downhill in science.  Much of our country's greatness and progress and innovation has come about because of great science, and if we lose our competitive advantage in that area, we are really in trouble.