Because Science


Happy Friday Virtus Family.

What is Science?

Science is the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence.

Pseudo-science is set up to look for evidence that supports its claims, it will cherry-pick sections of data and research to fit a preconceived narrative. Whereas science is set up to challenge its claims and search for evidence that might prove it false. The scientific method is designed in essence to prove theories wrong.
In other words, pseudo-science seeks confirmations and science seeks falsifications.

In this day and age, it’s hard to know who and what to listen to, where to get our information, and once received and digested it’s even harder to know whether what we have consumed is the truth.

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Unfortunately, there is no such thing as completely objective truth. As soon as reality hits the human psyche, it is tainted forever with our biases and assumptions. Our perspective is skewed and I think it helps to understand this.

This illustration from Jack Butcher (@visualisevalue) illustrates this flawlessly.

Our perceptions & perspectives are ultimately determined by our previously held biases. These biases can be articulated by examining two things; Context and Framing.

Context is a sense of the larger picture, it’s taking a step back to gather information to make well-informed choices and decisions. We have all heard the saying ‘When you know better, you do better’ well this is context in a nutshell.

Of course, we can’t continue stepping back forever eventually we need to take the information we are given, and make a decision, or take action.

Framing is your individually unique way of looking at the world, the way you interpret the events before you. It is ultimately the lens through which you face your reality.

The reason why the scientific method is so important, is that it brings us as close to objective reality as we can get. By continually asking ‘How might we be wrong about this?’ We can continue to build down assumptions until we have what we really want, truth.

Being wrong is not blasphemy, it isn’t a failure, being wrong what allows our species to learn and refine and continually do better. It adds checks and balances to our problem solving.

The 6 steps of the scientific method are designed to find out how we are wrong & continually bring us closer to truth.

Those 6 steps are as follows.
1. Ask a question: e.g What shape is the earth
2. Do some research: Do we already know what shape the earth is? My research tells me that some people think the earth is a sphere, whilst a minority thinks it’s flat and 7 people think it’s a turtle.
3. Formulate a Hypothesis (an educated guess): The consensus is that it is a sphere, I believe it to be a sphere.
4. Conduct a reliable and valid experiment: I can observe and measure the position of the sun during sunset (or sunrise)
5. Collect Observations: Collect data during the experiment: Sun position, eye position, time, position changes etc.
6. Prepare & communicate results: Was my hypothesis correct? Do I need to refine, expand, alter or reject my initial hypothesis & experiment?

This method, is an ongoing process, one that requires much understanding and refinement before a particular theory is thrust out into the world with enough evidence to be permitted as truth. But it doesn’t stop there. Scientists generally agree that no theory is 100% truth, & there are many ways that bias and prejudice still weasel their way into the scientific method.

Economic, political, and religious interests all influence the flow of funding into what is researched and what is done with the findings. We as a society are generally capable of admitting ignorance & that we are mostly wrong about things.

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So, when we know better we do better and a big part of knowing better is understanding the Heirarchy of evidence.

The Heirarchy of evidence is the guide through which we can rank the quality or strength of evidence provided to ensure that the opinions, studies, articles and reviews hold the necessary weight. See the illustration for the levels.

Please Note: Youtube videos, Facebook Posts, Biased Documentaries, Instagram Stories, Tweets and your nightly news fix don’t make it onto the pyramid.

As I mentioned earlier, in this day and age, it’s hard to know who and what to listen to, where to get our information, and once received and digested it’s even harder to know whether what we have consumed is the truth.
So, take everything with a grain of salt, understand the hierarchy of evidence and don’t believe everything you read or watch on the internet.

Oh, and keep being amazing.