Science is a method of how to investigate the world.
The scientists work according to scientific rules. Those who work according to those rules are those that can be called scientists, whether they have an academic degree or not. What is not so often realized is that you can have degree and anyway not work scientifically. And you can lack a degree and anyway work scientifically.
You get an idea how things can be connected and explain some phenomenon. You form a test to try to confirm it. If it’s already a “good” idea, or after the first confirming test you can call it a hypothesis. You go on with other tests to confirm or reject the hypothesis. The hypothesis can then be so well grounded that you can call it a theory.
What is a scientific theory?
(Information retrieved from the Chemical Resource Center (KRC) in Sweden)
A scientific theory is a well-functioning model, which explains a natural phenomenon. A scientific theory is not rejected because it does not “envision it”, it is rejected only on experimental grounds. We say that the natural sciences are empirical, ie. They must work in experimental situations.
What characterizes a scientific theory? How do we know it’s a scientific theory? The most important criteria are that it is
- Falsible. Ie It must be possible to find experiments that contradict the theory if it is incorrect.
- Predictive, ie Results can be predicted, which is called prediction. It should be possible to make predictions about the future based on it.
Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish a scientific theory from a pseudoscientific theory. Then there are some things that are worth checking out. Pseudoscience is characterized by
- Belief in authorities
- Lack of repeatability
- Hand-picked examples
- Dismissal of contradictory facts
- Non-falsible theories
- Inadequate explanation value
- Ad hoc hypotheses – customize the hypothesis to explain a particular phenomenon
The scientific method only works with what can be observed in the natural world. It though doesn’t say other objects can’t exist.
Many scientists today embrace the philosophy of naturalism, which is not science. According to naturalism cosmos consists only of objects studied by the natural sciences, and does not include any immaterial or intentional realities.
The scientific method does not take any stand if there are any additional ways than the scientific method to obtain knowledge.
The philosophy naturalism says that the reality can not involve any immaterial or intentional realities, for example a creator outside the world.
Scientism is another philosophy that goes one step further and says there are no other ways to obtain knowledge than through the scientific method.
What is often forgotten is that according to the scientific method, the answers that you get are dependent on knowledge of today, what you have perceived about the world so far and how your tests are designed with these facts as a base. So the answers we get today are not 100 % truth, they are the most probable truth depending on what we know today. When knowledge increase, the most probable truth may change to something else.