CyberSym Science and Society Blog
Critical Thinking: Sooner or Later, Your Assumptions Will Kill You Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Wednesday, 03 September 2008 21:12

This is literally true.

An assumption is something we think is true, but which we have not thoroughly tested or proven. Often it is based on an extrapolation or a parallel. Careful handling of assumptions is essential to critical thinking.

Everyone makes assumptions. It's pretty much the only way to get anything done, given that it is impossible to have complete knowledge about everything (a law of nature called the Uncertainty Principle).

Scientists are no exception. In science there is a structure for using assumptions.
It's the Law! Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Monday, 01 September 2008 14:42

Many of you have heard the humorous expression or seen the bumper sticker "Gravity: It's not just a good idea. It's the Law!" No one really seems to doubt the Law of Gravity, though more than a few of us occasionally fail to take full account of it. But obscured by the politicization of science and the rancorous public debates over evolution (The Law of Natural Selection, etc.) and climate change is the fact that science recognizes and codifies a number of important laws of nature. Like the Law of Gravity, most of these laws are not even remotely in question. Yet whether from indifference or lack of science education, many people seem to be either unaware of the importance of these laws or else have come to believe that they somehow don't apply. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Among the important laws of nature are Newton's Universal Law of Gravitation (gravity), Conservation of Momentum, Conservation of Energy (1st Law of Thermodynamics), Bernoulli's Principle, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, the 3rd Law of Thermodynamics, and the Uncertainty Principle.