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What is Science?

In order to study chemistry you must first understand what science is and is not. Science is unlike any other discipline. It not only requires a person to think, but that person must also prove his work. So, you must have a definition for science and understand the process of science.

"Science is the systematic study of natural phenomena."

The next step is to determine how science is performed. Modern scientists want science to be as objective as possible without the scientist's biases interferring. So, they use a set of procedures that would allow for discovery but still help to maintain objectivity. These procedures are referred to as the scientific method.

Scientific Method

The process of science is the scientific method.

The scientific method is the greatest modern scientific discovery. It consist of a series of steps that can take you from problem to solution. However, the data collected must support the hypothesis to prove the possible solution.

  • observe
  • hypothesize
  • test
  • analyze
  • conclude

The scientfic method must be used in scientific investigation or there is no science. You might have philosophy, metaphysics or religion but you do not have science.

The Limits of Science

Science cannot solve problems outside the scientific method. Although many people would like to believe that science is the answer to all our ills that just isn't so. Science has definite limits to what it can accomplish. Thus, good science must meet three conditions

Science must be:

  • observable
  • measurable
  • repeatable

Historically it has been known that science cannot do everything and when you leave the scientfic method you invite chaos. Remember the whole reason the scientific method came about was to make a distinction between natural philosophers (scientists) and other philosophers. Natural philosophers were required to prove their ideas and allow their peers to scrutinize their data. Nothing was accepted without proof.

So if science must be observable, measurable and repeatable, what can't science do?

Science cannot:

  • deal with moral decisions or values 
  • prove truths or absolutes
  • prove universal statements (all, always, never etc)

None of the above areas can be tested through the scientific method. These areas are of a religious or philosophical nature. Fasinating topics but not true science.

Always remember what science is and is not. Good science is based on the scientific method.

"Good science is observable, measurable and repeatable. Everything else is junk!"