Why philosophy of science is paramount in education

Published by adviser, Author: Joseph Szalinski - Rocket Contributor, Date: September 8, 2016
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S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering and math) programs are pushed in both high schools and colleges across the country. For a nation struggling with rampant scientific illiteracy, there sure is tremendous focus on careers in science.

And this is a dangerous notion to reinforce. To stoke passion for the noble study of science through greedy, monetarily-driven means, and not be worried about scientific illiteracy in the real world is a disservice to the very study of it. Money corrupts and co-opts research and discoveries and creates biased information. And having future scientists put in the work, but treat it like a business, when it’s a way to understand the world and ourselves, is wrong.

There is a loose set of ethics to being a proper scientist. Just like how an ideal journalist acts as a conduit between audience and information, biases cannot be accounted for and truth must prevail. It sounds almost like philosophy, and that’s because, it kind of is. Science started out as an offshoot of philosophy but began to develop independently not too long after.

The notion behind the scientific method is imbued with many humanistic hallmarks, reminiscent of science’s time as a philosophy.

Everything science has accomplished and yielded, all the work put into it, has been dependent on the scientific method; the whole of science is dependent upon it. Science is more than experiments and lab reports, and oftentimes those very things dissuade people from continuing to study science. But I feel offering classes in the philosophy of science can help students appreciate/better understand why they are studying what they are studying, and more than the lucrative benefits of studying it. The biggest detriment to science is people trying to take the helm, who have no idea what they’re doing.

An alarming amount of the select few who are passionate about science and concern themselves with the latest scientific news are quick to share bogus articles on social media, or think that YouTube videos make them masters of whatever subject is being discussed. There’s no skepticism, just blind acceptance. That defies the very tenets of the scientific method, and science becomes disgustingly dogmatic. This is why some are quick to compare it to religion, but it isn’t blind devotion and static facts. New things are constantly being discovered and skepticism, refuting information and critical thinking are heavily encouraged. No worship required.

On that note, studying the philosophy behind science can also help people see that it’s not some insidious system of information that seeks to discredit religion. Although the two haven’t had the most rosy of relationships, they’re not necessarily incompatible.

It’s to everyone’s best interest that the philosophy of science is taught in high school and college classrooms. From distancing science from profit, blind allegiance and negative prejudices, we can begin to see a better world, made possible by proper adherence to the scientific method and the responsibilities of a scientist.

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