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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ten Myths of Science

This post is not about myths of science results, like: The Earth is (Flat, Round). It is about the process of science. This post may be interesting to SF readers and writers who wish to get the terminology straight, and is based on an article by William McComas at Bluffton University.

For example, in Myth 1:Hypotheses Become Theories Which Become Laws, the term hypothesis, though used fairly casually, has three common meanings, and therefore the usefulness of the word is ruined, as explained in Myth 2: A Hypothesis is an educated guess. Three terms suggested by the article writer to replace hypothesis are: generalizing hypotheses (tentative or trial laws), explanatory hypotheses (provisional theories), and predictions. Or, alternatively: speculative law, speculative theory, and predictions. With regards to the terms law and theory:

With evidence, generalizing hypotheses may become laws and speculative theories become theories, but under no circumstances do theories become laws.

Here is a list of the ten myths of science processes:

  • Myth 1: Hypotheses Become Theories Which Become Laws
  • Myth 2: A Hypothesis is an Educated Guess
  • Myth 3: A General and Universal Scientific Method Exists
  • Myth 4: Evidence Accumulated Carefully Will Result in Sure Knowledge
  • Myth 5: Science and its Methods Provide Absolute Proof
  • Myth 6: Science Is Procedural More Than Creative
  • Myth 7: Science and its Methods Can Answer All Questions.
  • Myth 8. Scientists are Particularly Objective
  • Myth 9: Experiments are the Principle Route to Scientific Knowledge
  • Myth 10: All Work in Science is Reviewed to Keep the Process Honest.

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