FLASHBACK! KEW Episode 35: Beyond Science

Science is important to me. Though I am a trained scientist and truly embrace the scientific method as a great way to go about answering questions, I think we treat science, the method, and scientISTS as if they were something special. We/They’re not. It is very important to me to help people understand what science IS and, more importantly, what it IS NOT.

The first point I try to make in this video, and whenever talking about science is that IT’S JUST A METHOD. What we call science is the set of instructions about how to go about asking questions (the scientific method), and draw inferential conclusions as a result. Ideally, but very rarely, these results are then transformed FROM scientific methodology, complicated statistics, and field specific jargon, to meaningful statements most people can understand. But this last step almost never happens, and when it does, it isn’t interpreted by scientists, but by laypersons.

Here’s the rub: The RESULTS of SCIENCE, produced following and according to the SCIENTIFIC METHOD, have to be filtered through a DISCOURSE comprised of US HUMANS. Science is nothing special except having some rules to follow in order to produce a desired result. Think about that statement. It’s not that much different from religion or governmental laws. These things are methods or systems of organizing or going about completing a task(s) in ways that make sense to a large number of people or constituents. In other words, these methods are vetted up front by groups of people, and their results are filtered through a discourse comprised of thoughts, interpretations, and opinions of those same people.

I will develop and explain this concept in much more detail beginning with Episode 50 and my efforts to develop concise products about this and related subjects. But here I introduce the idea that science is just a method used to answer questions, that we, as people interested in these questions, are not doing our job, and the scientist have become so separated from the public discourse that the method itself is incomplete, and becoming ineffective.

Original blog with podcast and video links here https://chrisburcher.com/2020/12/25/kew-episode-35-beyond-science/

Preview KEW Episode 48: Unlearning

I’m beginning to believe that before we can really learn anything, we have to unlearn everything we ‘know’ related to that thing. Not necessarily because of a limited capacity to learn, but because a lot of what we ‘know’ can be unhelpful, misleading, or outright wrong.

Maybe this is a controversial statement, that much of what we ‘know’ is wrong. But it seems obvious to me at this point that we have been taught a whole bunch of stuff that we have never thought about.

Examples I use in this episode include religion, politics, and music. There are tons more. An example of being wrong about what you know is your religions affiliation. Are you a Christian? How? Why? Did you make that decision? When? Did you consider all of the other religions equally and then DECIDE you were Christian? Hopefully, you see what I’m saying.

Some things we just never THINK about, but we LEARNED them. From our parents. Our siblings. Our extended family. Our school teachers. Our bosses. All of the people around us teach us things every day. Some of this we are aware of.

Probably we learn things before we can really comprehend them. No ones fault, it’s just a thing that happens. Then it’s just a matter of whether or not we ever realize this and, if we do, whether we then try to decide for ourselves.

Oh yeah, unlearning. So before we can really LEARN anything, we have to unlearn the stuff we learned when we weren’t paying attention. So, if that’s true – did we really LEARN it in the first place? I don’t know about that, but I think we still have to unlearn first.

Full podcast and video episodes this Friday on KEW.