Believing in Science

I’ve come across a lot of people who have said that people shouldn’t support politicians who don’t “believe in science.” That phrase always amuses me.

To believe is to accept that something is true. The scientific method is the antithesis of belief. Instead of accepting something as true, the scientific method postulates that all hypotheses be tested through experimentation. If experimentation doesn’t prove a hypothesis false, then there is some evidence to support it. But even then the hypothesis isn’t assumed to be true, it merely hasn’t been proven false. If a hypothesis hasn’t been proven false, the scientific method demands that further experimentation be performed. After rigorous experimentation a hypothesis may graduate to a scientific theory but even then it isn’t assumed to be true. A scientific theory is merely an explanation for observations in the natural world that has been repeatedly tested and verified. At any point in the future an experiment could show that the explanation isn’t correct.

One should not believe in the scientific method. One should treat the scientific method as a scientific theory, a tool that has proven useful through use but not necessarily the only useful tool. One should not believe what scientists have published. One should seek to recreate the results published by scientists. In other words, to truly subscribe to the scientific method one must be skeptical about all things, even the scientific method.