How do you describe what you think of science? Do you use the word believe? Accept? Trust? Have faith? Word choice may be important depending on who you are talking to. I typically shy away from saying I believe in climate change or evolution because believe has other meanings. I don’t want someone to misinterpret my way of using the word.
I often stumble in my word choice, not because I question whether climate change or evolution are real. The scientific evidence supports them. When someone asks if I believe in climate change, I emphasize the way of knowing rather than faith.
The folks are UC Berkeley have made two great websites especially for teachers about understanding science. I highly suggest digging into these sites.
Understanding Science http://undsci.berkeley.edu/.
Understanding Evolution http://evolution.berkeley.edu/
We want students to understand science and why we believe in it. So, what is science? It is a human endeavor, a way of thinking and doing to examine the natural world. On the JR, we are doing one part of science. We are collecting evidence in a methodical way, testing our expectations, comparing the results to other evidence, and will discuss and present the findings for review by other scientists. It is not just clapping our hands. It is an interactive community process to develop understanding of the natural world. Chief scientist Paola told me that this project has been in the planning for 10 years! There is a moratorium on the data collected for the first year so that the scientists on board have a chance to publish their results. Then the data and core is available for everyone else to look at.
Our faith or belief or acceptance of scientific theories comes out of what is science. It is the method of examining the world. We want our students to think of science as a way to critically examine the natural world. It is a philosophy, a way of knowing. This does not mean that religion or spiritual beliefs are disregarded when believing in science. There are many scientists who have strong religious beliefs. When someone asks do I believe in science, I want to say yes, I believe in the philosophy of science and it is not a faith-based belief.
Part of why I wanted to come on this expedition is because I don’t get to do science anymore. I get to help others learn about science and to place high school interns in labs to do real science. Here I’m getting my hands a bit dirty (although I’m usually wearing gloves). The process of data collection and sampling is usually very monotonous, yet there is some pleasure in the repetition and knowing that these little boring steps help lead to our understanding this subduction zone.
Time to go help sample the core in the chemistry lab