What is Science?
Science: “The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of natural phenomena.” American Heritage Dictionary.
Scientific Method: “The totality of principles and processes regarded as characteristic of or necessary for scientific investigation, generally taken to include rules for concept formation, conduct of observations and experiments, and validation of hypotheses by observations or experiments.” American Heritage Dictionary.
- It may evoke an image of someone in a white coat peering through a microscope, a zoologist observing animals in the Galapagos, unintelligible equations scribbled on a chalkboard, beakers of bubbling liquid, or a big fat text book.
- Science is a body of knowledge and a process.
- Science is the process of discovery.
- Science is a way of understanding the natural world in the past, present and future.
- Science is ongoing—refining and expanding our knowledge of the universe.
- Science is a way to study the natural world
Science focuses on the natural world.
Science aims to explain the natural world.
Science explores testable ideas that are reproducible.
Science (in theory) relies on evidence.
Scientific knowledge leads to ongoing research.
Science has limits: Moral judgments, aesthetic judgments, decisions about applications of science, and conclusions about the supernatural are outside the realm of science.
Concepts from: “Understanding Science 101” (see the last link to website in resource list at end).
Misconceptions about Herbs and Science:
Misconception: Science contradicts the existence of God. Correction: Science cannot support or contradict the existence of supernatural entities. It deals only with natural phenomena and explanations.
Misconception: Science seeks interest in herbs only to find an isolated chemical that can later be synthesized then patented as a new drug. Correction: Natural product chemists are interested in identifying as many plant constituents as possible, particularly to discover new compounds using increasingly sophisticated technologies. Why? Because the natural world produces more chemistry than “a million medicinal chemists working for a million years” could dream-up.
Misconception: A conspiracy between the medical community, pharmaceutical companies, and FDA exists discouraging the use of herbs. Correction: “There is little doubt that consumer demand will promote an every-increasing interest in classic plant drugs for use as traditional herbal remedies.” (Varro Tyler, 1996).
Misconception: Herbs cannot harm, only cure. Correction: “The dose makes the poison.” However traditional herbal practices seeks to primarily use herbs that can be safely prepared and used by an individual.
Misconception: Science is infallible. Correction: Scientific knowledge is subject to the vagaries, interpretations, and limitations of fallible biological entities commonly known as human beings.
Get inspired: Explore the big picture and small details:
American Botanical Council. www.herbalgram.org. Various databases and information resources on all aspects of the science behind useful plants.
Hubble Space Telescope Site. http://hubblesite.org.
Morris, William, Ed. 1978. The American Heritage Dictionary. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. [5th edition, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2011 is available at: http://www.ahdictionary.com ].
Plant List. www.plantlist.org. The combined, searchable, taxonomic databases of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, Missouri Botanical Garden, New York Botanical Garden, International Organization for Plant Information, International Plant Name Index and other institutions and organizations.
PubMed. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed. PubMed is an online database to over 22 million citations from the biomedical literature and life sciences journals, often including links to full-text content from publisher websites. Studies funded by the U.S. government now have full, pre-publication manuscripts on-line. PubMed is a free database of the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, the worlds’ largest medical library.
Tyler, Varro E. 1999. False Tenets of Paraherblism. Available at Quackwatch.org. http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/paraherbalism.html. Accessed March 30, 2013.
University of California Museum of Paleontology. “Understanding Science 101: How Science Really Works.” Available at: http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/whatisscience_01. Accessed March 30, 2013.