Discussing Science

I love Science and feel it is one of humankind’s paramount accomplishments.  Yet, like every thing touched by people, it can be hijacked, perverted, and manipulated to thus become a word associated with the worst of humanity.  So when the word is contentiously debated, it is often this sordid history that feeds the confusion.  To aid in clarifying unnecessary confusion, I offer various adjective-aided-definitions and their above illustration.

Debating definitions can be a waste of time if both parties don’t understand that Definitions are myths.  Likewise, for the word “science” there is no generally accepted definition.  Admitting this up-front can sometimes tremendously be a fantastic aid a conversation where terms are debated.  The goal is to come up with common terms.

So below are some hyphenated “science” words to help in discussing Science:

The Methods of Science

  1. Science-Hypothesis Testing:
    The process of positing a hypothesis, offering ways to test it in order to build evidence for or against the hypothesis.  Testing is never considered finished.  Methodological doubt is welcomed.
  2. Science-Exploration:
    Inquisitive exploration looking for explanations and systematization
  3. Science-Knowledge:
    Those areas of knowledge that aim to base their selves on Scientific method.  The more depth and interconnectedness (conscilience), the greater the explanatory power.
  4. Science-Methodological Naturalism:
    Philosophy and Science are engaged in the same enterprise.  Methodological naturalists limit their science to the study of natural causes, because any attempts to define causal relationships with the supernatural  are never fruitful, and result in the creation of scientific “dead ends” and “God of the gaps” type of hypotheses.

The Social Aspects of Science


  • Those who see themselves as scientific.  I realize this is a broad definition, but it is meant to facilitate dialogue.
  • Dialogue can center on the properties listed.  Some group will exclude or minimize some of these properties and thus conversation can focus on those differences.


  • Knowledge which is generally accepted as true by those who feel their knowledge is based on Scientific method.  In the diagram, “Green” is correct theories or facts.
  • Orthodoxy and Hegemony are completely relative, of course.


  • Like orthodoxy, this is a political word and does not tell us about “truth”.  And like Orthodoxy, there are both wrong views (usually much larger) and right views.  The ratios tend to be significantly different.
  • Some Hegemony communities share broadly with orthodoxy(1) or even with Hegemony(2) and some are insular (5).


  • The social systems that act to protect certain treasured theories through coercion, power abuse, deception and many other techniques — conscious or unconscious.


Filed under Philosophy & Religion, Science

7 responses to “Discussing Science

  1. What are some of these certain treasured theories? I can think of one that might meet that description, string theory although for all I know it could be true.

  2. What are the 3-4 scientific communities?
    *My earlier comment refers to your discussion of Science Hegemony.

  3. @ William
    Funny, indeed String Theory was one of the untestable sciences theories I was thinking of while sketching this too. But imagine Homeopathy as number 5 and Herbal medicine as number 5. Numbers 3 & 4 could be acupuncture and Shiatsu.
    These are just off the top of my head — not tight examples. But then the model is suppose to be a teaching tool more than an accurate map.
    Following posts were meant to employ this — thus I did this post first. Thank you kindly for asking.

    Up coming post will be on one of the treasured theories. Please visit again then.

  4. Earnest

    I’m thinking astrology would be heterodoxy, also phrenology.

  5. Yep, each thinks it is enough of the important “properties of a science-community” to be included — no matter what others feel.

    Likewise, if anyone heard the parallels, progressive Christians and Mormons feel they belong in Christianity because they hold all the important doctrines or perspectives. Even if the majority of members would vote them off the island! 🙂

  6. Sabio, my friend, this is one of the few instances when your fabulous diagrams have managed to confuse the crap out of me as opposed to clarifying your point. I’ve been staring at that thing for nearly 20 minutes and I still have no idea what it’s getting at🙂 Hahah.

  7. @ Zachary Overline
    Wow, that is fantastic feedback, thanks. I always say, “For every person who claims they don’t understand what your wrote or drew, there are at least 100 other folks.”

    I might do another post with more sketches later to clarify.
    But let me try to explain.

    Some folks might want to pre-define science, and then make a diagram of those that belong inside their definition — thus, their personal Science Communities.

    But I have taken an anthropological approach and made the definition very broad: A Science practice is any practice that considers them selves a Science.

    Science Orthodoxy, then, can be seen to consist of some subset of these. Orthodoxy changes over time and location, of course.

    Most who consider themselves “Sciences” would probably see themselves as having one of the properties listed to the left —- whether other science folks agree with them or not.

    The diagram is simply meant to aid discussions which center on the word “science” instead on focusing on properties of science or the politics of science.

    The arrows show how any subgroup can be (1) right[green], (2) wrong[red], or (3) close[yellow] in their opinions. It is meant to simply allow non-believers to admit their own imperfection and possibly begin to see the other not as black-and-white.

    Hmmmm, it is a bit confusing without that explanation, isn’t it. Smile.
    But heck, maybe that explanation didn’t even help. Hope you let me know.

    Thanx for the criticism — always more valuable than compliments!

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