Advances in technology will continue to reach far into every sector of our economy. Future job and economic growth in industry, defense, transportation, agriculture, health care, and life sciences is directly related to scientific advancement.
These are strange times. The overabundance of information available on the internet combined with confirmation bias (seeking evidence to support a preexisting belief) has made finding fundamental truth much more difficult. For people who ask, “What is Science?” the traditional answer is a description of the scientific method, which is presented as a linear, incremental step-oriented process.
Unfortunately, this explanation of the scientific method is over-simplified, but does capture the core logic of science, which is testing ideas with evidence. However, the actual way science works is by many difference activities in many difference sequences, sometimes even concurrently. Scientific inquiry often involves repeating the same steps numerous times to account for new information ideas. The simple version of the scientific method also infers science is done by individual scientists working these steps by themselves when really, the most important part of science is the peer review portion, where findings are challenged and replicated to prove their veracity. .
The simplified, linear scientific method implies that scientific studies follow an unvarying, linear recipe.
But in reality, in their work, scientists engage in many different activities in many different sequences. Scientific investigations often involve repeating the same steps many times to account for new information and ideas.
The simplified, linear scientific method implies that science is done by individual scientists working through these steps in isolation.
But in reality, science depends on interactions within the scientific community. Different parts of the process of science may be carried out by different people at different times.
What can we thank science for?
Besides vaporizers, just about every convenience of the modern world. Cell phones, computers, fiber optic cables, the internet, nuclear speakers, wifi satellites, medicines, even hygiene just to name a few.
So what is science? Science is the engine of prosperity. Economists have said that a third to a half of U.S. economic growth has resulted from basic research since World War II. This underwrites the notion that if government were to be responsible for anything, it should be nurturing burgeoning industries that aren’t immediately profitable but have potential to postively impact our way of life, like the internet. Science is a system for exploring, and for innovation. It can fuel our nation’s economic growth. It can form a path for our young people in a competitive global marketplace. And it can fire our imagination. That’s why basic-science research deserves our steady commitment and investment.