I’ll tell you what it means to me, and we’ll see if you agree.
To me it means trying to understand things. It means there’s something in front of me that I don’t quite grasp and I want to figure it out. I’ll do it step by step. If I really really don’t know what it is, I’ll make a rough guess, and then we’ll see if we can refine it a bit, but at least we have somewhere to start.
And that’s the difference between rational thought and superstition. Science is always flexible and open to change. Religion, on the other hand, stops dead with the first rough guess. Can’t understand how that worked? No problem. We’ll invent a fairy!
Science does not mean computers or space rockets or gigantic skyscrapers. The science on them has already been done and when science has been done, it’s called technology.
To me at least, science is what any thinking person does, all the time, every day, even when confronted with the most minor, trivial conundrum.
Science is nothing more than figuring things out and it infuriates me when charlatans, chancers and religious nutcases try to create an artificial divide between science and their own personal delusions.
It isn’t a case of having creationism on one side and science on the other. It’s about rational thinking on one side and invented, untested conjecture on the other.
By the same token I find it annoying to hear complementary therapists, homeopaths and other such charlatans hijacking scientific terminology when by their very nature these people are anti-logic, anti-experience and anti-life. Energies, my arse.
I find it amazing that so many of our decision makers are so anti-scientific, when science is nothing more than joined-up thinking. It’s as if people have an inbuilt aversion to logic.
I know. Instead of working this out, why don’t we run around with our hands in the air screaming? That’ll really fix things.
So there’s something in front of me. I don’t know what the hell to make of it but I want to work it out.
I ask myself What can this possibly be? And then I’m faced with choices.
I can look it up in a translation of a manuscript written by a nomadic priest in Egypt three thousand years ago, and run with that.
Or I can see that there are twenty different possible explanations, but I grab the first one that appeals to me and spend the rest of my life talking about energies and selling treatments to gullible fools.
Or alternatively I can do the following:
Let’s see how similar it is to other things we’ve noticed.
Let’s test to see if it behaves the same.
Let’s see where it’s different.
Let’s try to work out what’s different about it.
Let’s come up with a theory to explain that.
Let’s see if anyone finds out where that theory isn’t working.
Great. New information.
Let’s modify the theory and start again.
That’s the scientific method and it works very well.
The religious fundamental method, on the other hand, has only one step.
We’re right. The end.
It isn’t confined to understanding the great truths of nature. That’s also the kind of ignorant shit you encounter when trying to discuss the state of the nation or priests buggering little boys, or why we allow idiots to run our country.
Of course, we couldn’t allow ourselves to think that rationally, or we’d be in danger of becoming Scandinavian, and that would never do, would it? We’d have to become honest as well. Not good.