Science as a way of thinking
Science, contrary to the popular belief, is not simply a gathering of facts, ideas or important concepts about nature. It is also not a mere systematic investigation about nature. Science is a way of thinking. Science is mostly referred to as a method of knowing, meaning its a method of thinking. Science investigates nature and discovers important aspects which can be attributed to it for the sake of human knowledge. As such, any form of thinking which involves unearthing reliable knowledge about nature can be classified under science. There are many methods of thinking focused on discovering the truth about nature. However, science is the method associated with providing reliable knowledge which can be tested and proven.
All thoughts involve ascertaining truth about existence and considering possibilities of further knowledge on the particular subject of thought. Thoughts are based on data presented by the senses and analyzed through the instrument of reason. As a way of attaining knowledge, humans speculated about nature. Speculation and rearranging facts to be consistent with empirical reality has been a major engagement of human thought. As such, men are often engaged, in one way or another, with the activity of thinking which the most important aspect of their being. As societies progressed and more knowledge began to be acquired, the modes of thought also changed. Men progressed from speculating over natural phenomena to empirically testing their thoughts so as to achieve a more valid knowledge.
With the advent of science, a new way of thinking emerged. Science provided a platform through which the mind can corroborate facts. Science not only became a method but also a way of thinking. Today, science dominates the thoughts of men as every realm of being is being sustained by science. Through employing science in most aspects of their lives, humans can now make predictions of the future possible to some extent. Science enables men to systematically think through the problems they are confronted with in their daily endeavor. Even though every human individual holds some belief about nature, the process of arriving at that belief is today dominated by science since it provides a systematic, verifiable and reliable knowledge.
When an individual employs scientific method to investigate any phenomenon, the act is often referred to as scientific thinking. As such, every person engaged in studying any aspect of life using scientific method is involved with scientific thinking. Scientists are involved most of the time with scientific thinking even though it is not exclusively left for them. Science is therefore a way of thinking. Whoever learns the scientific methods and applies its precepts will be engaging in scientific thinking whether he uses it for investigating nature or not. However, scientific thinking is often associated with the provision of reliable information about the natural world. This involves systematically gathering of raw data and analyzing it to come to a sensible conclusion. Time is a vital ingredient for any results achieved must also stand the test of time.
Scientific thinking is identical with critical thinking in both theory and practice. The difference between critical thinking and scientific thinking is that while scientists practice scientific thinking in comprehending nature, critical thinking is at times employed by humans and sometimes it is not. The most reliable method of thinking in the history of human beings is the scientific method which can also be used in other endeavors. The teaching of scientific and critical thinking is a major subject within numerous learning institutions. It is also encouraged as a universal ideal since it is bound to result in a reliable picture of the world. In order for an individual to reach a reliable conclusion, he must employ scientific method of thinking.
Science as a way of thinking involves a number of steps. An individual is predisposed to identify a significant problem and structure it in a way that finding an answer can be possible. This may involve trying out different ways and approaching the problem from different perspectives. As it is, this process may take a few hours few weeks or even a few years. The time factor notwithstanding, any human attempt at gaining knowledge in any field must always begin here. Emotions and outside influence are introduced at this stage. Many external factors are also involved here. Individuals must identify the problem they wish to handle and these may be influence by social, political or cultural factors.
Another step involves gathering information by making observations. The information must be empirical. From this, one can proceed and propose the possible solutions to the problem. As such, one formulates hypothesis which are testable and predictive. These must be tested before it is corroborated. A corroborated hypothesis becomes a scientific fact. The final step is theory construction which must be consistent with observable reality. All this process requires the engagement of the mind through an active process of thinking. In other words, science is a way of thinking and a way of ascertaining thoughts.
Schatfersman, S., (1994) Introduction to Science: Scientific thinking and scientific method. Retrieved on 20/11/2008 </http://www.freeinquiry.com/>