The Inconceivable Misuse of Science Words

Take Two Blog

In the oh-so-quotable The Princess Bride, swashbuckling Spaniard Inigo Montoya calls out bossy Sicilian Vizzini on his overuse of the word “inconceivable.”

“You keep using that word,” Inigo says, “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

The same could be said about science terminology. A recent article on laments the general populous’ frequent misuse of seven science words and phrases. The list includes, “hypothesis,” “theory,” “model,” and “skeptic,” among others. Blame for this lack of understanding, as we at RTB would agree, lies with poor science education.

In a discussion about the article on Science News Flash , RTB astrophysicist Jeff Zweerink describes this common misunderstanding as a “fundamental disconnect between the way majority of the population understands certain things and the way scientists understand certain things.” Part of the problem is the general public’s unfamiliarity with the history behind particular scientific terms.

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Jeff points to a few examples of how the disconnect creeps into people’s response to science and scientists. To start, scientists do not view the big bang as some sort of uncontrolled explosion. Rather the theory suffers from a bad nickname that stuck despite its misleading connotations. Likewise, we often refer to Newton’s laws of motion—even though we now know “we can violate them when we go very fast…or in very strong gravitational fields.”

In the science-faith debate, it’s not uncommon to hear Christians use the “It’s just a theory” line to dismiss concepts such as the big bang or evolution—but this is one defense that we ought to put of the shelf. First off, this argument is rendered faulty by misunderstanding the scientific meaning of “theory.” The article explains…

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The Inconceivable Misuse of Science Words | Take Two



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