Science is a set of ordered and coherent knowledge. Subjects like chemistry, physics, biology and natural sciences are all disciplines dealing with the phenomena of the sensible world for descriptive and interpretive purposes.
Scientists are expert scholars in a particular discipline.
In the study of nature, the scientist uses the sense organs or some increasingly sophisticated tools. The results, to be totally objective, should be independent from the activity of the scientist, from his or her personal, social and cultural story. That is, scientists should be independent from any kind of pressure and conditioning to impartially perform their work.
In reality, this does not always happen because of large economic and power interests linked to the applied sciences, that is the application for practical purposes of scientific laws and results. The scientific and technological progress could be driven from the outside towards a specific, single and interested direction.
The continuity of the scientific and technological progress should instead be always and equally assured in all sectors, in order to obtain more and better knowledge for the common good and well-being. Sustainability should be the single and wide direction to follow. Science and technology should ensure the continuity of life on this planet with a biocentric and non anthropocentric perspective, which respects the rights of all living beings. The right to health and to environmental, social and economic well-being should be guaranteed to all future generations. Equal opportunity and availability automatically generate trust in ourselves and in other people, cooperation, and emotional security.
Personal learning, deriving or not from school education, of scientific disciplines and of some simple basic notions, protects against possible distortions of scientific results. Science is based on facts, on numbers, on measurements, and not on words. Someone at school might not have studied chemistry and physics, because the matters were cancelled or because the teacher was not friendly. Or even because the teacher was not able to explain and made the subject incomprehensible and unapproachable for the majority of his or her students. To get started, just look for a good, clear and passionate teacher or book.
We should have no doubt, for example, about pH, acid rain, electromagnetic waves, chemicals and chemical reactions, antibodies, viruses and bacteria. They are not abstract topics. They are the environment where we live and the food that we eat. They are the remedies that we use for our health and the water that we drink. They are the substances contained in household cleaners and body creams. They are the clothes that we wear and our personal belongings.
Words can be manipulated, their use can be changed, their meaning can be altered, their sense can be turned upside-down. Classic examples of distortion of words are given in this blog post: “1984, the book symbol of manipulation”.
If we have some simple basic scientific knowledge, we can instead make independent cross-checks. We can have fun while making experiments directly and in a conscious and informed way. We can repeat the experience, if we are not satisfied. We can go deeper. We can go further and trust our reasoning, our intuitions, and our personal results.
Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering
Translation of the Italian blog post: Paola Morgese, Studiare le materie scientifiche per non farsi manipolare