Our Use of Scyence

“You spell science with a ‘Y’. And what’s upsetting about that is I don’t think YOU know that that’s wrong,” Abby Yates (Ghostbusters: Answer The Call, 2016).

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been forced to do a science experiment. So, all of you? I remember asking my teacher why we never did science in class but still had to do a science experiment for the science fair each year. She said, “So you understand the scientific method.”

Cool. Not really, but as long as there’s a valid reason.

Years later, as an adult, I still don’t understand this response, and I’m starting to believe she didn’t have a real answer for my question. I almost hope so, because if decades of forcing parents and their children to throw together a science experiment (usually the night before the project is due) was somehow supposed to teach us about the scientific method—they failed. They being the scientists who are now experts incorrectly applying the scientific method.

How do I know? In the wise-ish words of Clark Griswold, “Look around you, Audrey. We are standing on the threshold of hell,” (National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.) How do I really know? Because the “science” being applied to the Rona right now.

Note of admission: Rona is real. Cooties are real. People get sick. And a small percentage of those people have died and might still die. All this can still be true and the data coming out can be outrageously inaccurate and based on partial nonsense.

In no way am I disputing viruses. But I have a serious problem with 8 (random number) different people claiming to be the experts and giving us starkly opposing “facts” and then using their personal truths to decide my life choices.

Anyway, the scientific method. Let me just break it down in case your PTSD from the science fair has caused you to block out the basics of the scientific method. First, you ask a question. Something like, “which material keeps coffee hottest in your mug the longest.” (This is one of the only valid science fair projects I’ve seen in my life.) Then, you do some research and develop a hypothesis (your educated guess at the outcome)based on what you have learned. Next, you run an actual experiment, make your observations, and draw a conclusion.

But here’s where “scientists” today have gotten a little bit off. The experiment. All you math geniuses may already know where I am going with this. It’s the word variables. How many variables are you allowed to have in an experiment to categorize your findings as valid?

Answer: ONE

More than one variable skews your data, and you’ll never truly know how or why. Let me give you an example my daughter’s teacher used IN HER SCIENCE CLASS. I am yelling that to explain why it hurts so much.

He showed a video that meant to prove how singing and yelling passes the Rona cooties the most out of the other daily activities that we do, especially compared to talking softly.

Anyway, both videos used the same slow motion and zoomed in technology to show the water droplets sprayed out during singing and yelling versus talking. Seems valid when he’s asking the question, “Is Covid-19 spread faster through singing, yelling, or talking softly?” and his conclusion was singing and yelling, and that people should stop singing until Rona no longer exists.

What’s the problem? He used two different songs AND three different voice projection levels. The song he used for thesoft talking piece was a ballad with very few sounds that would create spittle. And the song he sang and yelled was loud, and full of hard sounds including g, c, and front of the mouth sounds. Do you feel what I am feeling right now?

He’s using two variables and declaring that Rona is so contagious in singing that it should be forbidden. And maybe he is correct, but not based on this experiment. Educator to educator, this hurts, Sir. Your science professor would be very disappointed in you. As am I.

I think my real issue with how rules are being applied to Rona is the inconsistency and the scyence used to report and control this virus. 

Some states have never shut down, and they are still going strong. They’ve gotten Rona, but many have gotten over it because of the 99.9+ recovery rate. Some states went through the solid steps of closing up shop, quarantining, buying a bunch of toilet paper, and flattening the curve because, like the rest of us, they really weren’t sure how serious this virus was. And again, they got Rona, many have gotten over it because of the 99.9+ recovery rate, and now they have reopened their state. And some states have gone extreme (either out of need or abundance of precaution) and shut down without ever reopening. 

Are you seeing all these variable? And the crazy town of people feeling THEIR events are OK but other people should really curb their gatherings. JC Penney’s return line yesterday was about the length of a voter line. Only, everyone was standing much closer together than I’ve ever let someone stand near me when I am voting.

The point I am making is we don’t get to be this inconsistent and call it science. We don’t get to join 426 people in Costco and fight over toilet paper, but draw the line at 100 people having church. We can’t say football practice is fine, but cheer is out of the question. And if a handful of states arewalking around without masks, and people from our state are driving to those states to visit, they don’t get to come back here and vote to keep our kids out of school in case they get sick. Know what I mean?

Also, to answer your real question here. It’s glass. According to a very well run experiment by a 5th grader at a local elementary school, glass keeps your coffee hottest the longest. Styrofoam next. Then paper. And then ceramic. So, jokes on all of us, I guess.

2 thoughts on “Our Use of Scyence”

  1. You can have multiple independent variables but you then need to factor your results accordingly.

    Not saying anything about whatever specific experiment was run, just that experiments with multiple independent variables are run all the time and results can very well be valid.

    Full disclosure, I felt the need to refresh my memory on the topic: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2796056/

    1. Agree, but doesn’t there need to be control? Also. Full disclosure. We never actually actively learned science in school. That wasn’t an exaggeration. In tenth grade I watched my teacher do an experiment. In 8th grade we memorized a lot of facts and looked at a dissected pig through glass.
      I think my issue is it doesn’t feel like results are being factored accordingly. I’d think you need a huge pull of information with multiple variables, right? If you want true data.

Comments are closed.