00 - Why You Need Science



You need science.

You can't afford to be scientifically illiterate or ignorant in today's world. A basic scientific education is a toolset for living your best life.

Scientific process and thinking is desirable in every career, whether you’re a plumber, doctor, artist, teacher, musician, chef, businessperson, entrepreneur, in the military, a stay-at-home-parent, a farmer, marketing products, selling products, you belong to a religious community...anything you can imagine, science can help you with. You can use your scientific knowledge base to make good decisions, to learn from your experiences, make tweaks, do better, and be better.

Apart from your job, science can help you with life. If you eat or buy or cook food, then you need to understand basic nutrition, and what food is made of, and how to make food taste delicious and not grow harmful bacteria, and what effect certain foods can have on your health and happiness.

Do you have a body? Do you care about or interact with someone else who has a body? Maybe you work with other people who have bodies? Basic knowledge about how bodies work can save your life, or the life of someone you love, or the life of a stranger. Even if you have access to good medical care, knowing the basics of healthcare helps in every part of life, from preventing health problems, to dealing with emergency situations.

How about if you have a pet? Science can help you can better understand their behavior and how to care for them properly.

If you grow plants, it helps to understand where they get their energy from, what conditions they evolved in, what traits they have, and what makes them grow well.

If you want to be a better parent, science can help you in countless ways, from being able to explain how the world works when your children ask you questions, to helping you make more informed decisions, to being able to communicate with teachers, and help with homework, making the best product choices for your household shopping, organizing your living space efficiently, and understanding the possible impacts of your parenting on your kids.

If you are a young person, scientific thinking and knowledge will be a tool that can help you now and throughout the entire rest of your life. If you are old, it will improve what you've got left!

Scientific thinking can make you a better person overall, but it can also protect you from being a sucker, a mark, a target of people who want to trick you, hurt you, control you, and take advantage of you.

If you can think scientifically, you’ll be able to spot red flags, you’ll learn what questions to ask, and how to process the evidence that people offer to you in order to prove their points. Not right away, education takes time. But you’ll get better at it as you build your knowledge library.

Just as important, science can help you know who you *can* trust, and how to verify if you are being told the truth by looking at the evidence presented. You can’t just say no to everything, and distrust everyone, you have to believe and invest in ideas and people. Just test them for reality first.

Scientific knowledge can give you the power to live a longer and happier life AND keep you from being manipulated by other people, by companies, governments, fake news, social media, by giving you the tools to do truth checks on information and ideas before you decide to believe them.

So, what is science? Science is not protons or photosynthesis or the Krebs cycle or magnetism or the formula to calculate the density of an object. Those are just facts that we’ve discovered about the world around us, and how it works, through science, and through scientific thinking.

Science asks, “Is this idea true or false?”, and then uses a clear system based on evidence and testing to figure out the answer. The tools of scientific thinking can be used by anyone, anywhere. A person of any race, gender, nationality, age, education level, or income level can use scientific thinking to get answers and solve problems. You probably use these tools already without even realizing it.

Science also involves a good deal of creativity and innovation and art. Scientific thinking and design thinking are very closely related, they are both processes used to solve problems. Artists of all kinds benefit from also being scientists, and vice versa.

Here's a really simple example of practical scientific thinking:

You have a flashlight that doesn’t work. It used to work, but now it doesn’t. What ideas can we come up with about this broken flashlight? Well, either the batteries are out of juice, or the flashlight itself is broken. It *was* working fine, so maybe it just needs new batteries. Let’s test the truth of that idea first.

Easy, we put in replacement batteries. The flashlight now either works, which means it DID need new batteries, or it doesn’t, which means the problem wasn’t the batteries. We have new evidence about what’s going on with the flashlight, because of our test, and we can start solving our problem right away.

Now, this seems like a really basic skill, right? If a person has trouble knowing what’s true and untrue, or believes ridiculous things that are clearly untrue, we usually think of them as either uneducated or mentally ill. But it can be surprisingly difficult to do this WELL without some basic training in how to think scientifically, and very few of us actually get that education.

Many people are actually taught the opposite of critical thinking: they are taught to just believe what they are told. Don’t think, don’t ask questions, and don’t ask for proof. No wonder so many people are bad at doing reality checks. Keeping people ignorant is an effective method of controlling them.

There are innumerable forces out there who would like you to believe particular things because it benefits them...cults, traffickers, scam artists, hackers, propagandists, companies and individuals of all kinds that want to sell you things, campaigns that want you to vote a certain way. There’s a lot at stake out there, there’s a lot to figure out and a lot of decisions to make, and the most basic skill for you to have in today’s world is to know what reality is, not marketing, not gossip, propaganda, spin, outright lies, need to be able to identify reality.

So science gives you the mental tools to be able to run a truth check on an idea before you decide to believe it. It gives you the power to make good decisions. It helps you avoid being a sucker and a fool and controlled by others who want to have power over you.

My goal is for you to be able to know what to look for, what questions to ask, and how to interpret the answers. There are clear red flags that you can identify when someone is trying to distract you or trick you or make you believe something that’s not true. We’ll go over those in the first lesson.

So that’s why you need science. Yes, you. You can make your life significantly better by learning how to use scientific thinking tools, otherwise known as "critical thinking". These tools are the key to your quality of life.

Our first lesson will be about how to think scientifically, how to filter out lies and untruths by applying ten rules. In future lessons, we’ll start building your scientific knowledge base, to be able to better understand the evidence that people present to you.

The more you know about how to think scientifically, and the more scientific knowledge you have, the more you are protected from people who want to scam you.

If you know a little bit about how the human body works to regulate acid balance, you probably aren’t going to be an easy target for someone trying to sell you expensive “alkaline water” as a health cure.

And some basic science, like how to organize a pile of stuff into categories that make sense, is just plain useful to anyone living with stuff and trying to manage it. People need this knowledge in order to become successful adults. But many people aren’t taught any basic science skills. Sadly, science education too often has focused on memorizing things you’ll never need or use again, instead of practical facts about how the world around you works, or how to apply that knowledge to your everyday life.

Even if you are already a scientist... you can be an electrical engineer but not understand how your body works. A computer scientist might not understand how important animal and plant ecosystems around them work, what influences those ecosystems might have on their community, or how protecting those ecosystems can also protect human lives.

A nurse who has been taught about the human body but doesn’t review new evidence or is unwilling to accept it, is missing the scientific *thinking* part and can make poor decisions for their patients.

We’ll fix that. I’m here to help you fill the holes in your education, no matter how young or old you are, no matter where you are geographically, no matter your color, religion or gender. These are science lessons for everyday living as a human being.

The first step is thinking like a scientist. Are you ready? Let's go to the first lesson.

Next: Lesson 01 - You need to think like a scientist


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