Why Science Matters

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Why Science Matters

If the world were simple and straightforward, science may never have developed from ordinary observation and experiment.  As it happens, the natural world is much more complex and diverse than anyone would ever guess. From the behavior of quarks to the light-years-spanning galaxies in space, from the over 350,000 species of beetles to the intricate beauty of DNA’s double helix, our world has amazed us with its complexity, invention and resiliency.Science unveils a world far beyond our expectations, drawing us from our day-to-day experiences and confronting us with a reality more inventive than our richest imaginings.

 Science Gives Us An Accurate Picture Of Our World

From earliest history, philosophers have speculated about what the world was and how it worked.  Many of these ideas were wrong: the results of limited perceptions, inaccurate assumptions and often, a lack of attention to facts.Science is the product of our search for a more accurate understanding of the world around us. Throughout history, people looked at what was happening around them, reached tentative conclusions, and tested their assumptions with careful experiments.  They learned from other inquisitive minds, and encouraged one another in their search for knowledge.  Science is simply an extension of that quest.Based on observation, confirmed by experiment and subject to verification, scientists have developed, not just a description of the world, but a kind of understanding that lets us put that scientific knowledge to work.  From Ben Franklin experimenting with lightening to Thomas Edison and the electric light bulb is a direct line – scientific research to technological advance.What has emerged is a startlingly accurate picture of the world and how it works.  It is not a complete picture, and no doubt surprises are in store – but the sciences, painstakingly built up over centuries of work, provide a framework of understanding that informs many of our most important perceptions, decisions and actions.

 Science Improves our Everyday Existence

It is easy to lose perspective on what it was to live in a world before modern science. People often died young, mostly of diseases that could have been prevented by good public heath practices.  Nature was seen as capricious and judgmental.  Our ability to provide food and shelter was limited to manual labor, augmented by a few simple tools and machines.Clean drinking water, improved crop yields, antibiotics, streetlights and the Internet all sprang from an understanding of the world provided by science.Even more, nature is no longer the province of vengeful spirits, disease no longer the result of someone’s malign intentions, and the physical properties of the world no longer hidden behind a veil of mystery, forbidden to mortals.  This understanding has allowed us to solve a host of problems, resulting in a myriad of improvements to the quality of our life.

 Science Can Inform Some of Our Most Important Decisions

Many of the difficult questions we face, from genetic engineering to global warming to alternative fuels benefit from a basic understanding of the science behind the issues.  By being better educated in the sciences, we are able to make more informed decisions as a consumer, a patient and a citizen.

 Science Promotes Common Understanding

Science, with its focus on natural cause and effect and repeatable, experimental verification can provide a common vocabulary and set of perspectives on the world – a kind of Rosetta stone by which we can better understand our relationship to one another, the earth, and all life.  This can be as simple as forging a common understanding of the mechanisms that make crops grow, ecologies flourish and children healthy.  These common understandings help banish fear and mistrust, and provide concrete arenas for cooperation and growth.

 Science Is A Tool

Everyone forms conclusions about how things work. Science provides a powerful means to test those conclusions, and reveal areas where we need to enlarge our understanding of the natural world.   A good grasp of science – its strengths and limitations – is one of the keys to better understanding our world and our selves.Science is one of the most successful, accurate and powerful tools we’ve ever discovered.  Like any tool, the value we get from it depends on how well we use it. If we apply the fruits of science with skill and wisdom, it enhances our life and understanding.  As we face the many challenges in front of us, we need the unique contributions of a strong, free, accurate science.