Science: Not as hard as it looks

A recent NPR article titled “Science: It’s Really, Really Hard, And That’s Something To Celebrate” caught my eye this morning, and I’d encourage you to give it a read-through. From the author:

…a simple fact about science. It is hard. It’s really, really hard. That is not something we should attempt to paper over. It’s something we should celebrate.

Of all the things that science gives us, from the joy of discovery to the connections we get to make between different phenomenon, I’m not sure that the aspect we should be celebrating is that it’s hard.

Because it isn’t.

Science, or the application of the scientific progress, is actually very, very easy. It happens all the time, in everyday life, not just in the lab environment. And that we label it hard, that we insist that it can’t be done without the mandatory year of biology, physics, chemistry (organic chemistry too!), and math, is one of the reasons, I believe, that we’re headed towards a future where scientific thinking is discouraged or looked down upon. We need everyone to appreciate what science can provide, and in order to accomplish this we need everyone to realize that science is something they can do. It’s not elitist, and it’s not impossible. Honestly, it’s not even that hard.

Yes, the more complex our questions get the more complex our tools need to become, and that takes energy and persistence, and it requires learning a whole range of skills in a variety of disciplines. But we need students that want to take that first year of biology and physics, regardless of whether they’re going to be an artist or an economist or a marine biologist, because they realize that science is something that they can participate in – that doesn’t take a graduate degree in quantum physics to be successful in science – that it’s cool, it’s fun, it’s interesting, and it’s easy enough that they can keep practicing it for the rest of their lives.


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