Science Does Not “Prove” Anything True

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A HUGE problem we have in today’s society is the understanding of the nature of science.  I watch interviews with people on television that deny science simply because THEY don’t personally believe it for a variety of reasons.  The media and personal conversations confuse the meaning of science by using terms like “facts” and “prove” when describing a new scientific study.  This contradicts the entire principle of the scientific understanding of natural phenomenon.   

First of all, science does not “prove” anything true.  The best it can do is disprove all the known ideas about the possible cause and effect and whatever is remaining is probably how it occurs.  Real scientists use terms like “the probable cause is…”   or “this is possibly due to…” to describe their results.  A good scientist realizes that it may be possible that someone in the future with a new idea or better technology disproving what they are currently claiming. 

Science textbooks are continually being updated with the latest updates in our current understanding of science.  As we learn more about something, we add it to what we know or change it to the current best explanation for that concept.  There will always be some fringe scientists who try to make claims that they believe or perhaps believe they can profit from if they make certain claims that counter popular scientific study results.  Often these scientists were dismissed by peer-reviewed publications because they didn’t meet the required criteria to make the claim they are making or with poor error analysis of their data.  It is interesting how often they get “invited” by media that give these fringe ideas a voice outside of the scientific community and convince society to “believe” this idea to be a scientific “fact” which of course it is not.

 

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Martin Shaffer,

Physics Instructor