The limits and scope of science

-

Reference: Duncan, S. McNiven, D. and Savory, C. 2004 Thinking Skills Through Science. Cambridge, Chris Kington

Discussion Plan

  • What do you think science is?
  • Where do scientific theories come from?
  • Does science tell us the truth?
  • Are scientists always right?
  • How do we tell the difference between science and non-science?
  • If a group of scientists say that GM foods are harmful and another group say they are not, whom do you believe?
  • What do you do if two groups of scientists disagree?

Exercise 1

Put the items below into one of these three piles. Be prepared to give reasons.

  • Science
  • non-science
  • not sure

acupunture, aeroplane design, astrology, astronomy, biochemistry, car design, computing, cooking, creationism, economics, gardening, herbal medicine, meterology, nuclear physics, physiotherapy, plumbing, space exploration, theory of evolution, theory of relativity, water devining.

Exericse 2

Two sets of ideas are expressed below. Take one set and discuss it. Produce a chart showing reasons to agree with the ideas expressed on the one hand and reasons to disagree on the other hand.

  1. Science is about boring mens’ stuff that isn’t interesting or important to our everyday lives. Scientists are mainly men in white coats and women don’t get a look in. Einstein is a good example of a scientist. His theories are all unintelligible and abstract and generally don’t have any practical application for us.
  2. Science makes life easier. It helps cure disease and lets us live longer and more comfortably. Think of all the inventions we have such as DVD players and mobile phones that we wouldn’t have without science. Our food is healthier and more varied and most people in the world are better off because of science.