Here, we’ve seen that a little consideration can go a long way towards assessing the scientific messages that come your way everyday — whether it’s the heart-healthy logo on your cereal box or a news report of a government decision on coastal conservation. You can get to the science beneath the spin by applying what you know about how science works: how scientific ideas are evaluated and publicized, the inherent provisionality of scientific ideas, the nature of scientific controversy, and how science is funded. Science itself is simply a way of learning about the natural world, but because that knowledge is powerful and affects many aspects of our lives, identifying misinterpretations and misrepresentations of science is a key part of a scientific outlook on life.
But that’s not all that a scientific view of the world will buy you. Some aspects of the process of science can be put to use in your everyday life. For example, you can use scientific reasoning, evidence, and ideas to solve everyday problems — like figuring out what’s wrong with your car by testing one hypothesis about the problem at a time, just as a scientist might set up an experiment. More generally, a scientific view of the world can help you retain and increase your curiosity about and appreciation of the natural world. A view of the Himalayas is certainly breathtaking, but it is even more powerful when viewed with an understanding of the natural processes that the mountain range represents — 40 million years of colliding plates pushing up peaks and exposing them to the slow work of erosion. The night sky is pretty, but it is fascinating when one understands the distance of the stars and the ancient events that their light represents. And a hummingbird is beautiful, but it is awe-inspiring when one considers the lightning rate of the chemical reactions within its cells that power its fast-beating heart. Science asks the deepest of all questions about the natural world around us: how did the universe get to be the way it is today, and what will it be like tomorrow? This is an incredible mystery — but one which science gives us the tools to understand and appreciate.
To develop your scientific view of the world, visit Think science!