Science is the systematic and objective pursuit of knowledge based on falsifiable predictions that are testable by experiment or observation. While science seeks truth, it is always open to challenge based on verifiable facts. A scientific theory or law may be widely accepted and verified such that it is true for all practical purposes. However, it is never considered final and permanent such that it may be challenged by new findings. The following are the branches of science with examples of each.
Formal ScienceFormal sciences are systems of knowledge based on abstract concepts represented by symbols such that they are widely applicable to other sciences. These are often based on proofs such that these systems are internally correct with a high degree of certainty.
Natural ScienceNatural science is the use of science to understand the physical world. As these sciences deal with physical and observable phenomena these are considered hard science whereby the standard of proof is very high to have a theory accepted. Compliance with the scientific method is relatively high in the natural sciences with peer review and reproducibility required for acceptance of a theory.
Applied ScienceThe use of science to solve real world problems. This is considered with the discovery of know-how and development of actionable plans using foundational knowledge created by formal sciences and natural sciences. For example, an architect who uses physics, mathematics and material science to determine the wind load the facade of a building can tolerate.
Social ScienceSocial science is the study of societies and individuals. This is considered a soft science whereby theories may be based on informal logic, imprecise measurement or studies that lack scientific rigor. In fields such as psychology, it is common for studies that do conform to the scientific method to fail to be verified by subsequent studies†.
OverviewScience is a systematic endeavor characterized by the formulation and empirical testing of falsifiable hypotheses to understand natural phenomena. This is based on formal sciences, particularly mathematics, logic and statistics.
SummaryThe following are the basic types of formal and natural science. Each of these has many subfields and related interdisciplinary fields that involve multiple sciences.The list above excludes applied sciences and social sciences..
DiscussionHuman behavior and systems involve copious amounts of qualitative information that isn't easy to measure directly. Studies in the social sciences, such as economics, can be fully based on quantitative data but may still produce models with limited predictive power. Humans are dynamic, complex and human systems are fully chaotic. Understanding these systems requires high level concepts that tend to be somewhat ambiguous. In some cases, social sciences fully reject the scientific method. For example, postmodern relativism that rejects the existence of objective reality itself in favor of the idea that reality is a set of subjective experiences with no universal truths.Next: Hard Science
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References†Maxwell, Scott E., Michael Y. Lau, and George S. Howard. "Is psychology suffering from a replication crisis? What does “failure to replicate” really mean?." American Psychologist 70.6 (2015): 487.
An overview of biology with examples.
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An overview of the characteristics of a good theory.
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