Lecture 4-Chapter 3.4-Nature of Science
DepartmentAstronomy & Astrophysics
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Chapter 3.4 ± The Nature of Science
Distinguishing Science from Nonscience
x Science means ³NQRZOHGJH´EXWQRWDOONQRZOHGJHLVVFLHQFH
o For example, you may know what music you like best, but your musical taste
is not a result of scientific study.
The Idealized Scientific Method
x Science is difficult to define because not all science works in the same way.
experiments or observations to test it.
o For example, your flashlight suddenly stopped working. You hypothesize (an
educated guess) that the batteries have died. Your hypothesis then allows you
to make a simple prediction that replacing the batteries will fix the flashlight.
You can justify by testing. If the flashlight QRZZRUNV\RX¶YHFRQILUPHG\RXU
Hallmarks of Science
x Everything we now consider to be science shares the 3 basic characteristics:
1. Modern science seeks explanations for observed phenomena that rely solely on
2. Science progresses through the creation and testing of models of nature that
explain the observations as simply as possible.
3. A scientific model must make testable predictions about natural phenomena
that would force us to revise or abandon the model if the predictions do not
agree with observations.
x Is the idea that scientists should prefer the simpler of the two models that agree
equally well with observations.
x Because of unreliability, eyewitness testimony alone should never be used as evidence
in science, regardless of who reports it or how many people offer similar testimony.
x It can be used in support of a scientific model only when it is backed up by
independently verifiable evidence that anyone could in principle check for him or
x Thus, eyewitness testimony is insufficient for a conviction in criminal court; other
evidence is required like motive.
Science and Pseudoscience
x Pseudoscience means false science; to distinguish real science from pseudoscience,
check whether a particular claim exhibits all three hallmarks of science.
Objectivity in Science
x Science being objective means that all people should be able to find the same results;
it is very important to the validity of science as a means of seeking knowledge.
x However, because science is practiced by human beings, individual scientists bring
their personal biases and beliefs to their scientific work.
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