The Role of Science in American Culture
Over the years, science has shaped the development of many societies and nation. In its literal sense, science is just defined as a systematic body of knowledge, which is made possible through investigation of natural phenomena through observation, theoretical explanation, and experimentation, or the knowledge produced by such. In this sense, science has taken a lot of roles in the advancement or degradation of culture. Sometimes, the development of technology is also interchanged with scientific exploration. It is true that technology are product of scientific studies with the aim of making life better and easier, if not more complicated, but science can exist even without technology. However, this paper explores both of these developments. Undeniably, science aids technology and technology aids science, too.
Roles of Science
“Science provides the foundation of credible decision-making (“Role of Science at EPA”).” This is actually the primarily role of science. The credibility of decision-making is stronger when it is proven that it was made through scientific method and chronological order that arrives in logical and compelling decision. Moreover, “scientific knowledge is not only uncertain, but also dynamic. Through research that is designed to reduce uncertainties, our understanding increases and, as a result, we change our assumptions.” In American culture, there have been ways on how to do things. Americans have devised certain ways to arrive into something aimed for; and these ways seemed to be the only ways. Science has already been embedded in the life of the society. It is assumed, therefore, that the role of science is technically to make things and life easier to its beneficiaries.
Difference branches of science have paved a way to numerous discovery and invention throughout the years. Complex technological gadgets were invented to help in many scientific researches; but these technologies were made based on the need of those researches and in turn, many processes have been discovered to be effective and many other things have become offshoot of study. The fields of biology or the study of life and medicine are among the many branches that have evidently shown a lot of advancements as new discoveries in human physiology, new species of life and new strains of life forms are evolving. The study of the earth’s evolution did not end with Darwin’s theory of evolution. Though that theory has remained a mystery, the evolution of everything living on earth has continued and many are not yet explained and many cures to diseases remain undiscovered. The developments of life forms are fast faced and are affected by the emerging technologies; thus science is also trying to cope to the current nature of its environment whether tangible or intangible.
Another role of science concerns risk management in decision-making. Science provides factual basis for decision-making. In making important environmental decisions or any other decision, it is important that science provides strong technical basis. It is recognized that scientific analyses are the best source of reliable, replicable information about hazards and exposures and as being essential for good risk characterization.
Influence from Non-Scientific Communities
The development of scientific research is not mainly dependent on the scientific community rather it is greatly influenced by non-scientific communities. The society in general is the greatest influence for scientific research, discoveries and inventions. Almost every circumstance in the society, science makes a way to explain it. The consequences of every human action and discovery, science wants to elaborate on them. To every phenomenon that is happening in the earth, science theorizes on them and makes a way to prove the theory. Almost everything in the world now can be explained through scientific methods and proven by research. Even the community of religion is already explored by science hoping to explain every belief therein.
The religious communities have also influenced scientific communities. Because scientific communities could not readily accept that certain beliefs of phenomenon are happening without explanation derived from scientific methods, they have explored the establishment on how religion and science can work together. If before, all those that science can not explain resort to religious explanation, the time has come when unexplained religious phenomenon can already be explained by science. In Christianity, there is already a sect called Science Christianity established in the USA in 1866 where they incorporate science in their beliefs especially in spiritual healing.
Thirdly, the government, being a non-scientific community also influences science. In the name of economic alleviation and development, warfare and becoming a superpower, America has been funding scientific research that will enable the country to advance itself from the others. Scientific research has become one of the components of globalization where countries compete with new discoveries and technologies. Jerome Karle states that “their motivation is to orient research more toward programs that, for example, ensure a stronger economy and improvements in the environment. It is becoming increasingly apparent that those public officials, who control public funds, will be reluctant to fund research programs that they consider unrelated to national needs. (nobelprize.org)”
“Popular” science in the USA is being advanced by certain personalities including scientist Bill Nye through making science a popular culture among kids. He has used his television programs to explain to his viewers, young people most especially, the wonders of science. Though he could not be considered as the greatest American scientist, he has contributed to make people more interested in the study of science.
If in the old times, scientific studies were not generally accepted, the acceptance of society to the results of science has been greater especially that many of its fields and branches are already incorporated to educational curriculum. Moreover, many funding agencies are putting their investments to scientific research in the belief that its benefit will traverse the needs of mankind and the environment.
Future of Science
Keith Brooker (2006) noted that for more than 50 years, science fiction has been one of the most important contributions of American films in scientific community. It has made visible the possible scientific exploration of the future. Science fiction has focused on extraterrestrial exploration and genetics that has the possibility of becoming true in the future. Science’s role as making the advancement in human life will not end soon, rather it will continue to invade and reform the culture of many people not only in America.
Notably, Christopher Tourney (1996) observed four philosophy of useful knowledge that affects the future of science: “by making the individual prosperous, useful knowledge also made the individual free; technology improved the standard of living of the whole population by mass producing commodities; the fruits of useful knowledge would make the United States economically independent of foreign nations; and the spirit of useful knowledge would make the United States intellectually independent of foreign nations. (pp16-17)” Indeed, Tourney made his vision for science for the United States, a country continuously seeking for advancement.
“Role of Science at EPA,” US Environmental Protection Agency, 09 December 2008 <http://epa.gov/osp/science.htm>
Booker, M. Keith, Alternate Americas: Science Fiction Film and American Culture, Praeger Publishers, 2006.
Charnley, Gail, Enhancing the Role of Science in Stakeholder-Based
Risk Management Decision-Making 09 December 2008 <http://www.riskworld.com/Nreports/2000/Charnley/NR00GC03.htm>
Karle, Jerome, The Role of Science and Technology in Future Design, 2000, 09 December 2008 <http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/articles/karle/>
Tourney, Christopher, Conjuring Science, Rutgers University Press, 1996