“People don’t understand the process of science. How a scientist goes from a list of observations and perhaps a handful of equations to understanding, to knowing.(Discover)” People who don’t understand the process of science often believe in scientism. Scientism is the belief that scientists merely follow procedures with no creativity involved. That couldn’t be further from the truth. “Scientism is terribly limiting of human understanding (Discover)” because it leaves no room for imagination. Scientism is the basis for the end of science; for if we simply follow procedures without imagination or creativity, we cannot push the boundaries of science.
Throughout history scientists have had to use their imaginations to cultivate testable hypotheses. Imagination is the engine that drives science. Isaac Newton saw an apple fall from a tree, and his imagination pushed him to search for an understanding of gravity. “It took a vast leap of imagination for Max Planck to think of gas molecules in the Sun behaving like little springs, oscillating away, able to eject only specific colors of light. (Discover)” It took a creative mind for Alan Guth to consider that maybe the Big Bang Theory wasn’t that crazy after all, just a bit incomplete. A plethora of imagination was used by Charles Darwin when he connected the dots to formulate his Theory of Natural Selection.
We have the equations, but “we are not so good at solving them. (BBC)” These equations can be used to understand an unfamiliar world. In order to be able to use these equations we need imagination. To figure out the applications of our equations we need to “get experience playing around with the equations and imagine how they might behave in different circumstances. (BBC)” The key to figuring out how to use the equations we have is “imaginative play (BBC)”. A procedure of steps is not vast enough to understand all that we have discovered. “The laws we have discovered… are so strange you have to play with them in your mind (BBC)” in order to understand them.
Even those who believe in scientism use imagination in science every day. Every person has wondered, what’s at the bottom of the ocean, what’s out there in space, what happens when we die? There is no set procedure to answer those questions. Thus people use imagination to try to solve these questions. Imagination allows any person to ponder big scientific ideas without ever performing a single experiment. However, it is when the imagination drives one to act upon their idea, that the greatest discoveries can be made.
Science has the capability to answer all of our questions, but science is worthless without imagination. Science is far from boring a procedural. “It’s not mechanical, not wholly logical, and not plodding down a narrow path of rules and laws. (Discover)” In fact there are not rules for science. Sure there are laws like Newton’s Laws. But even the laws and rules of science required a great mind coupled with imagination to come to fruition. A great mind, like science, can do very little without imagination. “Science is imagination (Discover)”.
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