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You may have heard expressions that have the word “scientific” behind them.  Because of this, most people assume that they are the same as saying “truth” or “fact”.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. As we have seen before, science creates models that describe portions of our reality. Then, we attempt to verify those models using measurements. If the measurements coincide with the forecast from the model, then we say that the model is true.

Now, allow me to throw a wrench in the process.

What happens if scientists John, Indi, Muller, Xi and Santiago repeat the same test independently and obtain results that seem to verify the model. But, scientist Umu does not. Is the model then true or false?

Here is where the definition of scientific truth or fact comes into play: A scientific model is true or a fact when the majority of the scientific tests (or experiments) confirm it.

Notice that the definition does not say that all tests must confirm, but the majority.

Why is this important? Because as science creates imperfect models, we will also obtain imperfect results. However, we can have sufficient reassurance that the model is sufficiently close to reality to be useful if the majority of the experiment confirm it.

And this is the best that science can do!

Because of this, science is not a religion nor a certainty nor a truth.

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

Continue to What is science and how it works – Part 4

 

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