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2: What Is Science, and How Does It Work?

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    Chapter Hook

    It’s 1935, and you have another sore throat, the second time this month. After a doctor appointment you are referred to an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor). After a short appointment you are scheduled for a tonsillectomy the next day.  The majority of children during this time period had their tonsils removed. In fact, the history of tonsillectomies goes back 2000 years! Medical professionals knew that taking out tonsils had benefits for their patients, mainly decreased throat infections and improved sleep due to obstructive sleep apnea. However, there was not extensive research performed on long term risks in addition to the surgical risks. By the 1970s tonsillectomy recommendations significantly decreased after research confirmed long term side effects for some patients. This is one of many examples where procedures and policies were created without appropriate evidence utilizing the scientific method, the backbone of science.

                                    Anatomy of tonsils and throat

    Figure \(\PageIndex{a}\) Anatomy of normal versus abnormal tonsils and throat. Image by BruceBlaus (licensed under CC-BY-3.0)


    Chapter Hook by Rachel Schleiger (CC-BY-NC)

    Page summary modified by Melissa Ha from What is Science? from An Introduction to Geology by Chris Johnson et al. (licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA)

    • 2.1: What is Science?
      The process of science allows us to learn about the natural world in an objective manner, which is based on fact rather than opinion. Both inductive and deductive reasoning are important in the scientific method. Inductive reasoning is used in descriptive science and in generating hypotheses while deductive reasoning is key to hypothesis testing. Hypotheses and the predictions that stem from them must be falsifiable.
    • 2.2: The Scientific Method
      This section reviews the scientific method and discusses why it is so important to the the process of science. The main steps of the scientific method are observation, question, hypothesis, prediction, experimental design, results, and conclusion.
    • 2.3: Scientific Papers
      This section discusses what peer review is and how scientific papers are structured.
    • 2.4: Basic and Applied Science
      This section discusses the differences between basic and applied sciences. The goal of basic science is simply to expand knowledge. Applied scientist more specifically focuses on solving modern problems.
    • 2.5: Data Dive- Tonsillectomy Trends
    • 2.6: Review

    This page titled 2: What Is Science, and How Does It Work? is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Melissa Ha and Rachel Schleiger (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative) .

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