Environmental Sciences Independent Peer Review Institute





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A Few Words About Science


Good scientists are professional skeptics.  Albert Einstein was not only a brilliant thinker, but also a lifelong skeptic.  When a scientist announces a new finding or discovery, his or her peers will remain skeptical of the new information until they have had the opportunity to try to poke it full of holes.  If the science survives the testing, then they will accept it. 

Skepticism that drives scientists to thoroughly test every piece of new information is healthy for the sciences.  When you are building on the foundations of the work and discoveries of others, you want those foundations to be as solid as humanly possible.  One piece of bad science, incorporated into a new study, can invalidate months or years of work, lead to poor public policy, and tarnish reputations.

In science, it's the best ideas that stand the test of time.  You form your hypothesis, and then you do your level best to destroy it.  If, at the end of the day, your hypothesis survives your research, there's a chance that you've arrived at a conclusion that might of value.  To find out whether it really is valid, you turn it loose for your peers to test.

That test, where other scientists in your field and beyond get to apply all their skills to see whether they can poke enough holes in your work to break your hypothesis is crucial.  If they can't, you've made a real contribution to the body of peer reviewed science.

The world of science is full of intellectual rough and tumble.  Ideas that don't measure up are not treated gently, because failed ideas lead to failed lines of research.  Bad or inadequate ideas have to be refined out of the process to protect the integrity of the sciences.

As science advances, theories once thought valid can be found incorrect and replaced by more complete knowledge.  History teaches us about the process of replacements such as the incorrect understanding of a flat earth being replaced by the knowledge we have today, as well as learning that the earth is not the center of the universe, after all.

When good science is being practiced, you don't find full consensus on any question.  When science becomes politicized, and policy-makers or grant providers hop into the driver's seat, you find issues resulting in the controversies we are seeing today.  This is not the first time it's happened . . . and it's not likely to be the last.

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