3 Misconceptions About Science

Have you ever felt frustrated trying to understand what scientists agree on? Are fats healthy or to be avoided? Is coffee good for me or bad? There seems to be conflicting information on the news about “what the science says.” Science and research are often intimidating and daunting topics to understand. Additionally, the ever-evolving nature of research can be frustrating to keep up with. Think of science as a living, growing organism. Every day it changes and grows as it gains more experience. We hope that next time you hear a news story about the latest science phenomena, you think about these common misconceptions:

  1. Science proves ideas. Science is complete and absolute

Scientists are very careful to ever call anything a fact. Laws (like the law of gravity) or dogmas (the central dogma of biology) are the closest scientists come to facts. These are ideas that have stood the test of time. In other words, there have not been any experiments that have shown evidence that contradicts these theories. In the same manner, science is never complete. Often when one project leads to a discovery, 100 more questions are surfaced for researchers to investigate. Science can provide evidence for an idea but not outright prove an idea. 

  1. Because science ideas are tentative, they can’t be trusted

Scientists are always trying “double-check” their or others work by repeating experiments to see if they get the same results. Media tends to like to focus on conflict and evidence contrary to other ideas. After all the headline “study finds results that agree with all previous experiments” is not nearly as exciting. Additionally, new ideas at the cutting edge of science change rapidly as more and more researchers add their discoveries. Although scientific ideas can change if there is enough evidence to the contrary, many are backed by years and years of evidence and experimentation. Journals and scientific papers also go through a rigorous review process to make sure the experiment was performed soundly. So, although science is fluid and the evidence is ever changing, a lot of ideas are based on years and years of experimentation and evidence and are very unlikely to change. 

  1. I’m not a scientist so understanding science isn’t important to my life.

Science is important to everybody! Whether you’re an accountant or a retail worker, science and its innovations will play an important role in your life. Think of the last time you went to the doctor. If you got a vaccine, your blood drawn or any other procedure, all that was due to scientific advances. Sanford Research investigates rare diseases, cancer and diabetes. It is likely that someone you know will develop one of these over your lifetime. Treatments and preventive care for these are being studied and bettered every day. Additionally, as a voter, your vote can hold a lot of weight in the direction and role of science in the future. 

Science can sometimes feel perplexing and irrelevant to our lives. However, these tips above may help to keep science in perspective the next time you hear conflicting information.