Ten Reasons to Appreciate Science
In the mid-1700s, natural phenomena were so poorly understood in the American Colonies that lightning was considered by many to be an indicator of God’s wrath. Accordingly, if lightning struck a house and caused a fire, neighbors often let the home burn to the ground because they figured this was God’s intention. Then in 1753 Ben Franklin invented the lightning rod because he rightly intuited that lightning was a buildup of electrical charges that exploded from the sky and shot to Earth. As a result of his innovation, far fewer church bell ringers were killed and far fewer church towers with bells were set aflame due to lightning strikes. Being superstitious and dismissive of the mechanics of the physical world is no way to go through life. Following are ten reasons to appreciate science.
- Scientific inquiry is perhaps the best example of self-help. When you study how things operate in a measurable or rationally supported way and apply this knowledge to new innovations and responses to situations, you take ownership of your actions. By making informed decisions, you impact your environment in a useful, productive manner while gaining a clearer vision of reality.
- Science encourages intellectual integrity because it deals in probabilities, not absolutes. This means that when a theory proves flawed or incorrect, a good scientist will discard or modify the theory to more accurately approximate a stronger theory. Often, application of the theory to a real-world scenario helps drive necessary modifications, which in turn improves our ability to make better use of our environment.
- Science drives strong economies. Understanding things like nanotechnology, refrigeration, the genetic code, the heliocentric system, why the sky is blue, our expanding universe, and the benefits of antibiotics, all comprehended through systematic research and reporting methods, leads to a generation of people who are prepared to make powerful contributions to society, largely because they’re receptive to emerging technologies that continue to propel civilization forward at an astonishing rate.
- You become a more responsible citizen when you think scientifically. Thinking critically and skeptically allows you to make more informed decisions because you reason through multiple scenarios and their possible outcomes before jumping blindly to uninformed conclusions. The scientific mind is alert to and wary of fallacies like the hasty generalization, slippery slope, false dichotomy, bandwagon, post hoc ergo propter hoc, and so on. Using scientific principles to examine social and personal phenomena proves useful in our quest to build more sophisticated and, hopefully, humane civilizations.
- Science teaches you to work smarter, not harder. Because science often focuses on the mechanics of cause and effect in empirical reality, it underscores what works, what doesn’t work, and what serves as the most efficient way to accomplish any given task.
- Using sound scientific thinking keeps you from blindly accepting what you’re told. Since science is a discipline grounded in experiment, skepticism, and the quest to establish repeatable evidence, it tends to question everything, which might seem annoying to some, but this is the only way for clear thinkers to come to rational conclusions while respecting themselves in the process. Groupthink and submission to the intellectual dictates of others proves appalling to the scientific mind. It’s worth noting that a number of scientists fail to understand the principles of their own discipline when they outright dismiss tenable theories that challenge their assumptions. Everyone, including scientists, should remember to challenge their own beliefs.
- Studying science can lead people to become better stewards of the environment. Understanding the holistic nature of life on Earth allows for more productive uses of our resources. Living things are dependent on each other, which means an awareness of our ecosystem fosters an intelligent respect for nature and our place in it, which will likely lead to decisions that will improve our quality of life and chances for survival in the coming decades.
- Scientific study changes your brain’s cognitive functioning in positive ways. Most high-grade thinking ties to problem solving. Science is a discipline grounded in problem solving. As such, it requires its practitioners to fire neural pathways that morph into sophisticated networks due to intense activity. In short, scientific thinking can make you a much smarter person, and you are never too old to learn. You will be changing your consciousness for the better.
- Valuing science shows respect for future generations. Cultures that lack science or don’t develop it remain static and are usually overwhelmed by other cultures that do apply science to their cultural infrastructure. Power always fills a vacuum. Americans need to take this to heart when choosing elected officials.
- Scientific thinking makes for a healthier planet. Scientific innovations have extended life expectancy and, perhaps most notably, improved the quality of life for elderly people. Better physical health has translated to better mental health, and longer life has equaled a more substantive transmission of knowledge. Within the next century and a half, humans will probably be living comfortably to the age of 140 due to genetic modifications. In all likelihood, most of them will respect and thank science for giving them this opportunity.