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Ideas and Evidence in Science

Science and scientific evidence

Watch the video below, ‘What’s in the box?’ then read on.

Were you able to work out what was in the box from the sounds? The ideas you suggested were not based on pure guesswork, were they? They were based on the evidence available to you.

Suppose you are now given another box but this time, the box is sealed. You shake it and it rattles. It sounds a bit like a couple of metal spoons, but then again, perhaps it’s three spoons … or a fork and spoon. Is there a way to know which theory is right? Suppose you’re now given access to an X-ray machine. Does that help?

Suppose you X-rayed the box and saw nothing inside but the box rattled when you shook it, what would that tell you?

Conclusive evidence

Sometimes, when you’re investigating different possibilities, the evidence for one theory or another becomes overwhelming and everyone agrees on the proper conclusion.

In science, this is often the way it seems to work. Mind you, there is a reason for this. The science you study at school tends to focus on the ideas that are now well established in science. Even with this said, science is a particularly good way to test theories. Here’s why:

Scientific evidence is evidence you can detect using your senses or sensors. The evidence must be objective which means that everyone can see it.

Suppose in contrast you stub your toe and begin to hop around the room, yelling in agony. “Oi!” says your unsympathetic friend, “Stop making a fuss about nothing.” In this case, the evidence is subjective. The pain signals that travel from your toe to your brain are felt only by you, so only you can decide how much it hurts.

© 2011 LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion)