Science Writing 103

“Science” should mean one thing, so that when we use it as writers or speakers, our audience knows exactly what we’re talking about.

It’s rare that the deepest meaning of the word is also the least understood.  Science, at its heart, means a particular process of learning.  It is correct to say “I am doing science,” or even “Leave me alone! I’m sciencing.”

But that’s not how we often use it.  Most people use it to point to a body of knowledge and say “Ahh, that’s Science!”  There are 8 (or so) planets around our sun.  That’s science!  My computer works great.  That’s science!  This jello doesn’t even melt in the sun.  Now THAT is science!

But not all that knowledge was achieved scientifically.  And just because it’s knowledge, doesn’t mean it’s a special kind of knowledge.  We somehow think that if we call this kind of knowledge, “science,” it takes on a special hue.  A hue of royal purple, with gold fringe.  The kind of hue you would find on royalty, demanding your obeisance.  And it shouldn’t.  It’s knowledge.  Plain old knowledge.

This is the second, and most popular way, that the word science is used today.  If you’re using it this way, be aware that you are moving it from its original purpose.  And if you feel any obligation to your readers and your dedication to the truth, don’t go dressing up the word any more than it needs.  Take off those royal robes and let your statements stand there in the buff.  Your statement, that knowledge, should be beautiful and important enough so that it can stand there on its own merit.

And that’s knowledge, achieved without the benefit of sciencing.


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