We need to understand the scientific process and why it is important.

We need to understand the scientific process and why it is important.

by Doyle Ranstrom on Apr 26, 2020

I got two C's in college.  The second was during my sophomore year when I had done so well on the exams during the class, I thought studying for the final would give me an unfair advantage.  Turns out I was wrong.

The first C was the first semester of my Freshman year in biology which was a class that met every day of the week. During the course of the semester, I was using my normal study skills of mostly paying attention in class, a quick review before a quiz or exam, and playing ping pong in the dorm.  So, going into the final, I had a solid D.  When all else had failed, I tried studying, I mean really studying, got a very high grade on the final pulling my grade from a D to high C.  I am not sure who was more surprised, me or the professor.  

Looking back at this class years later, I realized something, I learned about science and how it works.  It turned out to be one of the most valuable courses I ever studied.

There is a process called the "scientific method" which is a series of steps.  If you Google it, you will the number of steps can vary.  For example, one summarized the process as six steps starting with asking a question or stating a problem, do academic research, form a hypothesis, conduct tests or experiments, analyze data, finally develop a conclusion which confirms or rejects the hypotheses.  What follows after this is extremely important.  Publish findings in academic journals which leads to peer review.  Peer review confirms original findings, adds to the knowledge, or rejects the original findings.  

By the way, one article said the scientific method is actually a means to explain how science works in a simple manner to dumb people.  I assume the article did not mean me, but who knows.

Anyway, if this sounds like boring hard work, for most of us, it is.  To scientists focusing on a specific topic or problem, it is hard work, very hard work, but never boring.  Their passion for adding to knowledge and solving problems makes all of our lives better.   

Today, we are dealing with a global coronavirus pandemic and we as a country are getting a quick and intense lesson in science and like my final in biology all those years ago, there is no short-cut and playing ping pong in the basement is not going to get it done.

All the health care workers on the front lines are highly educated professionals and when this is over, and it will be, they will be our heroes.  But the professionals who win the war for us will be researches led by infectious disease specialists.

The path to becoming an infectious disease specialist starts with a college degree, then completing medical school, followed by residency, and then an infectious disease fellowship.  By comparison, to be a Nationally elected politician it requires raising a lot of money and getting more votes than the other candidates.  To be a radio political talk show host or political cable TV news host it requires...  Okay, I have no idea what those jobs require, but they seem to pay well.  

To deal with the coronavirus pandemic, it would seem to me that it is in all of our bests interests to listen to highly educated infection disease specialists and medical doctors who speak their language.  Also, we need to elect politicians who do the same.  

Science is science.  For too long, a segment of our society has belittled many parts of science and all of us are now paying a huge price, two trillion government dollars already, and more trillions to come.  The coronavirus was inevitable.  The human and economic costs were avoidable.  If you do not agree, click here.     

Like me a long time ago, it is time to buckle up and study. For most of us, that simply means developing our understanding and appreciation of how science it works, be in infectious diseases, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, cancer research, understanding the universe, growing food, human behavior, the beginning and end of dinosaurs, climate change, or living in space to name just a few.   Science affects and improves all aspects of our life.  

As a person of faith who strives to live a spiritual life, I have never seen a conflict between science and religion.  I have often seen a conflict between science and ignorance.  Ignorance can win short-term, but never long-term. 

Finally, if you are one of the millions of parents now home-schooling your children and are now realizing how hard it to teach any subject not to mention science, that's ok.  That's the reason good teachers, and the vast majority are very good teachers, are the rock stars of our country. 

If you happen to have a kid like me, first of all, I am sorry.  But hang in there, you may be raising a scientist, or a teacher or at least a Nationally elected politician who appreciates and understands the value of both.  If you happen to raise a future political talk radio host or cable to political show, they're young, hopefully, they will change their mind.

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