Discovery Writing: What Are The Necessary Characteristics of Science? Part 1

Discovery Writing: What Are The Necessary Characteristics of Science? Part 1

I tweaked someone else's image using GIMP. You can find the original at https://pixabay.com/en/woman-beautiful-girl-lying-leaves-2003647/

I know a lot of people who when asked "what is science?" will fire back with a list of sciences. If pushed further, they might be paraphrased along the lines of "a field that follows the scientific method," or "evidence based enquiry into the nature of reality." I vividly remember one of the last conversations I had with a friend devolved into an argument about what it meant for human understanding of gravity to still only warrant the label of 'theory.' After the stupidity of that argument, she only ever spoke to me once more, and it was strained. It remains the most ridiculous way I have ever lost a friend. I agree that the common understanding of science and scientific knowledge has developed into an almost fetishised reverence for what I believe should be a purely descriptive term. In a sociopolitical climate of increasing intentional ignorance, I understand the attraction that might come with labelling something as science. It's a useful rhetorical buzz-word that appears to add an air of credibility to whatever it is your saying. However, just cause I want to call my cat a dog, doesn't make it a practical use of the label. 'Dog' has a series of specific characteristics that if I walk around telling everyone about my dog, if they ever meet the little devil, there will be some confusion. If the person has no conceptual understanding of what the differences are between a dog and a cat, then I've likely done that person a disservice by teaching them my own idiosyncratic meaning for the word dog. That would only be useful if I could convince the majority of people to reconceive the concept of a dog to include my cat. Another option is that the person will just assume I am cognitively confused and stop taking anything I say seriously. While there's lots of other possible outcomes of misusing labels, the one that concerns me most is that last one. Scientific knowledge is not the only type of knowledge, nor necessarily the best, but its application has lead to some pretty spectacular (and sometimes horrible) things. You wouldn't be reading this garbage without the application of science, so let's agree it isn't perfect. But what is scientific knowledge really? What are the necessary characteristics of science, that when we want to consider if the label is appropriate for a topic, we can use as a checklist?