Everybody Plays the Way Scientists Work

I disagree with this article from Discover Magazine.1

We have to be careful, though. This exploratory, quasi-scientific approach to the world doesn’t last if adults teach kids to do something else: Kids will let adult instruction override their natural curiosity.

Here’s a little secret: Almost everyone already thinks like a scientist.2 We generate hypotheses based on known data and previous results. We test hypotheses and evaluate results. Adults do it and kids do it. There’s nothing to be careful about. Teaching a child a fact about the world will not stunt exploration. It will just divert the exploratory activity to a new objective.

However, my real disagreement with the article is the portrayal of scientists as specially gifted humans. They are not. They are regular people that apply well understood principles. They may also have a deep knowledge of a specific topic.

Want to be a scientist? Go to a friend’s house and try to use their TV remote.

  1. I like Discover Magazine. I do not like the cult of science many try to bolster. Science is awesome. Everyone can do it. ↩︎

  2. Ok, I have met some truly stupid people. Most likely, they are a yet unrecognized new species. ↩︎