As part of a series of Life 101 posts, here is one about the scientific method and science content.
The scientific method
The scientific method is universally useful, also on a spiritual path. It is a formalized version of a grounded, pragmatic, and common sense approach to life and exploring and learning more about anything in life.
Science content is different. This is the product of the scientific method. This is what we discover. This is how we think and talk about what we have discovered. And this is typically far from universal. This changes over time and over time and sometimes across cultures.
One possible exception is explorations of our true nature. This tends to be described in very similar ways across times and cultures. And yet, here too, people are informed by and express it through the lense of their own culture and background. We also have certain facets we are more familiar with or fascinated by which leads to a difference in what we emphasize.
This is another Life 101 topic – basic and essential.
The scientific method is common sense set in system. It reflects how we go about learning, discovering and living our lives when we do so with some sanity and groundedness. And the guidelines reflected in the scientific method are useful for us in most or all areas of life.
Science content – what we collectively think we know – is different. This will always change for us as humanity, cultures, and individuals. In smaller and bigger ways. In any and all areas of life. And for both content and context (worldviews).
The essence of the scientific method is more or less universal. And the content of science – what we think we know based on science – is always limited, colored by our worldviews, and changing.
This is why I am very grateful that in both school and university, a big part of the education was about how to think about ourselves and the world. It was, implicitly or explicitly, about the scientific method. (And a lot of it was critical thinking about society and history, bias, how the powerful stay in power and how the masses are manipulated, and so on.)
And it’s also why I see learning critical, sane and grounded thinking, exploration, and investigation as essential in any good education. It’s as important as other basics like reading, writing, basic math, and so on.
Of course, it depends on what kind of society we want.
If the goal of our educational system is to train people to be good “cogs in the machine”, then teach them what they need to be good servants in corporate jobs. (Obey authority, writing, math, non-critical history etc.). If the goal of our educational system is to create a society that works for more people, including future generations, and to help the students live good, meaningful, and rich lives, then help them explore and learn the basics of a good life, including critical thinking.