Scientists strive to make sense of observations of phenomena by constructing explanations for them that use, or are consistent with, currently accepted scientific principles. The credibility of scientific theories often comes from their ability to show relationships among phenomena that previously seemed unrelated.
The theory of moving continents, for example, has grown in credibility as it has shown relationships among such diverse phenomena as earthquakes, volcanoes, the match between types of fossils on different continents, the shapes of continents, and the contours of the ocean floors.
The essence of science is validation by observation. But it is not enough for scientific theories to fit only the observations that are already known. Theories should also fit additional observations that were not used in formulating the theories in the first place; that is, theories should have predictive power.
Demonstrating the predictive power of a theory does not necessarily require the prediction of events in the future. The predictions may be about evidence from the past that has not yet been found or studied. A theory about the origins of human beings, for example, can be tested by new discoveries of human-like fossil remains. This approach is clearly necessary for reconstructing the events in the history of the earth or of the life forms on it. It is also necessary for the study of processes that usually occur very slowly, such as the building of mountains or the aging of stars.
Stars, for example, evolve more slowly than we can usually observe. Theories of the evolution of stars, however, may predict unsuspected relationships between features of starlight that can then be sought in existing collections of data about stars. When faced with a claim that something is true, scientists respond by asking what evidence supports it. But scientific evidence can be biased in how the data are interpreted, in the recording or reporting of the data, or even in the choice of what data to consider in the first place.
Scientists' nationality, sex, ethnic origin, age, political convictions, and so on may incline them to look for or emphasize one or another kind of evidence or interpretation. Not until female scientists entered the field was the importance of female primates' community-building behavior recognized. Bias attributable to the investigator, the sample, the method, or the instrument may not be completely avoidable in every instance, but scientists want to know the possible sources of bias and how bias is likely to influence evidence.
Scientists want, and are expected, to be as alert to possible bias in their own work as in that of other scientists, although such objectivity is not always achieved. One safeguard against undetected bias in an area of study is to have many different investigators or groups of investigators working in it. It is appropriate in science, as elsewhere, to turn to knowledgeable sources of information and opinion, usually people who specialize in relevant disciplines. But esteemed authorities have been wrong many times in the history of science.
In the long run, no scientist, however famous or highly placed, is empowered to decide for other scientists what is true, for none are believed by other scientists to have special access to the truth. There are no preestablished conclusions that scientists must reach on the basis of their investigations.
In the short run, new ideas that do not mesh well with mainstream ideas may encounter vigorous criticism, and scientists investigating such ideas may have difficulty obtaining support for their research. Indeed, challenges to new ideas are the legitimate business of science in building valid knowledge.
Even the most prestigious scientists have occasionally refused to accept new theories despite there being enough accumulated evidence to convince others. In the long run, however, theories are judged by their results: When someone comes up with a new or improved version that explains more phenomena or answers more important questions than the previous version, the new one eventually takes its place. Science as an enterprise has individual, social, and institutional dimensions. Scientific activity is one of the main features of the contemporary world and, perhaps more than any other, distinguishes our times from earlier centuries.
Scientific work involves many individuals doing many different kinds of work and goes on to some degree in all nations of the world. Men and women of all ethnic and national backgrounds participate in science and its applications. As a social activity, science inevitably reflects social values and viewpoints. Before the twentieth century, and well into it, women and people of color were essentially excluded from most of science by restrictions on their education and employment opportunities; the remarkable few who overcame those obstacles were even then likely to have their work belittled by the science establishment.
The direction of scientific research is affected by informal influences within the culture of science itself, such as prevailing opinion on what questions are most interesting or what methods of investigation are most likely to be fruitful. Elaborate processes involving scientists themselves have been developed to decide which research proposals receive funding, and committees of scientists regularly review progress in various disciplines to recommend general priorities for funding. Science goes on in many different settings.
Scientists are employed by universities, hospitals, business and industry, government, independent research organizations, and scientific associations. They may work alone, in small groups, or as members of large research teams. Their places of work include classrooms, offices, laboratories, and natural field settings from space to the bottom of the sea. Because of the social nature of science, the dissemination of scientific information is crucial to its progress. Some scientists present their findings and theories in papers that are delivered at meetings or published in scientific journals.
Those papers enable scientists to inform others about their work, to expose their ideas to criticism by other scientists, and, of course, to stay abreast of scientific developments around the world.
The advancement of information science knowledge of the nature of information and its manipulation and the development of information technologies especially computer systems affect all sciences. Those technologies speed up data collection, compilation, and analysis; make new kinds of analysis practical; and shorten the time between discovery and application. Organizationally, science can be thought of as the collection of all of the different scientific fields, or content disciplines.
From anthropology through zoology, there are dozens of such disciplines. They differ from one another in many ways, including history, phenomena studied, techniques and language used, and kinds of outcomes desired. With respect to purpose and philosophy, however, all are equally scientific and together make up the same scientific endeavor.
The advantage of having disciplines is that they provide a conceptual structure for organizing research and research findings. The disadvantage is that their divisions do not necessarily match the way the world works, and they can make communication difficult. In any case, scientific disciplines do not have fixed borders. Physics shades into chemistry, astronomy, and geology, as does chemistry into biology and psychology, and so on. New scientific disciplines astrophysics and sociobiology, for instance are continually being formed at the boundaries of others.
This great unknown which surrounds us ought to inspire us with the desire to pierce it, to explain it by means of scientific methods. And this does not refer only to scientific men; all the manifestations of human intelligence are connected together, all our efforts have their birth in the need we feel of making ourselves masters of the truth.
Mathematics serves as a tool to physics, to chemistry, and to biology in very different measure; physics and chemistry serve as powerful tools to physiology and medicine. In this mutual help which the sciences are to each other, you must distinguish clearly the savant who advances each science and he who makes use of it.
The physician and the chemist are not mathematicians because they employ calculation; the physiologist is not a chemist or a physician because he uses chemical reactions or medical instruments, any more than the chemist and the physician are physiologists because they study the compositions or the properties of certain liquids and certain animal or vegetable tissues. We are neither chemists nor physicians nor physiologists; we are simply novelists who depend upon the sciences for support.
The title, "A Biology Lab Report", tells the reader nothing. This section explains how and, where relevant, when the experiment was done. . This guide is based on a paper by Gubanich, A.A. However, determination of the absolute amounts of indoleacetic acid (IAA) in the agar blocks, using a physicochemical . Similarly, you would write a paper for an audience of other biology . Do any ideas, experiments, or interpretations need to be moved around within the can be absolute (i.e. number of counts) or relative (i.e. percent or.
We certainly do not pretend to have made discoveries in physiology which we do not practice; only, being obliged to make a study of man, we feel we cannot deny the efficacy of the new physiological truths. And I will add that the novelists are certainly the workers who rely at once upon the greatest number of sciences, for they treat of them all and must know them all, as the novel has become a general inquiry on nature and on man.
This is why we have been led to apply to our work the experimental method as soon as this method had become the most powerful tool of investigation. We sum up investigation, we throw ourselves anew into the conquest of the ideal, employing all forms of knowledge. I think that the experimental novelists equally ought not to occupy themselves with this unknown quality, unless they wish to lose themselves in the follies of the poets and the philosophers. If we some day succeed in knowing it, we shall doubtless owe our knowledge to method, and it is better then to begin at the beginning with the study of phenomena, instead of hoping that a sudden revelation will reveal to us the secret of the world.
The only ideal which ought to exist for us, the naturalistic novelists, should be one which we can conquer. Besides, in the slow conquest which we can make over this unknown which surrounds us, we humbly confess the ignorant condition in which we are. We are beginning to march forward, nothing more; and our only real strength lies in our method. Claude Bernard, after acknowledging that experimental medicine is in its infancy still, does not hesitate to give great credit to empirical medicine. In the complex sciences dealing with man empiricism necessarily governs the practice much longer than in those of the more simple sciences.
Certainly if doctors must resort to empiricism in nearly every case, we have much greater reasons for using it, we novelists whose science is more complicated and less determined. I say once more, it is not a question of creating the science of man, as an individual and as a social being, out of the whole cloth; it is only a question of emerging little by little and with all the inevitable struggles from the obscurity in which we lie concerning our own natures, happy if, amid so many errors, we can determine one truth.
We experiment, that is to say that, for a long time still, we must use the false to reach the true. Such is the feeling among strong men. Claude Bernard argues fiercely against those who persist in seeing only an artist in a doctor.
All this, which I will not tire you by repeating, applies perfectly to the experimental novel. I will address to the young literary generation which is growing up around me these grand and strong words of Claude Bernard. I know none more manly. This profound conviction sustains and controls my scientific life.
I am deaf to the voices of those doctors who demand that the causes of scarlatina and measles shall be experimentally shown to them, and who think by that to draw forth an argument against the use of the experimental method in medicine. These discouraging objections and denials generally come from systematic or lazy minds, those who prefer to rest on their systems or to sleep in darkness instead of making an effort to become enlightened.
The experimental direction which medicine is taking to-day is definitely defined. And it is no longer the ephemeral influence of a personal system of any kind; it is the result of the scientific evolution of medicine itself. The students must be inspired before all else with the scientific spirit, and initiated into the ideas and the tendencies of modern science. All my literary life has been controlled by this conviction.