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What is Science?

The First Scientist
The Practice of Science
Science in the Philippines
What is Science?
sci·ence n.
2. The observation, identification,
description, experimental
investigation, and theoretical
explanation of phenomena
3. Methodological activity, discipline,
or study
Who’s the First Scientist?
• Isaac Newton (1642-1727)?
• Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)?
• Roger Bacon (1220-1292)?
• Aristotle (384-322 BC)?
• Imhotep (ca. 3000 BC)?
• Og (ca. 30,000 BC)?
The Practice of Science
• What We Do (or Don’t)
• Who Pays for It
• Scientists and the Jedi
• Ethics
What Drives Us

• What We Don’t Do (nor Try to)
– Invent
– Be good teachers
– Write popular books
– Seek major discoveries or the Nobel Prize
– Know a lot about everything
– Make the world a better place
What Drives Us
• What We Do Do
– Talk to each other
– Be an adviser or an advisee
– Know a lot about something: more and
more about less and less
– Seek knowledge for knowledge’s sake,
NOT public benefit
– Worry about funds for research
– Publish (or perish)
What Drives Us
• Publish our findings
– Do research, write up findings into a paper
– Send to a reputable, international, refereed journal
– Respond to referee’s comments and questions
– If accepted, rejoice; if rejected, send paper to
another journal
– If no one accepts: redo, try again, or move on
• Publish papers  more funding  more
research  publish more papers
– Limited fame or money in scientific papers, yet
– The whole world of science relies on them
– Any claim not supported by peer-reviewed
published papers is unscientific
What Drives Us
• The more often your paper is cited by others,
the more important it is
• Having a paper published in a major journal is
more prestigious than writing a book
• Being a scientific “star” means:
– Publishing a few hundred papers
– Getting funding easily
– Getting good scientists to work and publish with you
– Getting invited to international conferences or being
asked to organize them
– Getting asked by publishers to write textbooks for
advanced readers and a specialized audience
Scientists and the Jedi
• Adviser, Master, Sensei
– Having many apprentices to work for you
– Publishing numerous papers done by
apprentices (get credit for little or no work)
– Expecting apprentices to achieve more
than you (and get some credit for their
The Ethical Scientist
• Ethics? What ethics?
• Rule #1: Your work should be replicable
• Ethical vs. professional behavior
– Give credit where credit is due – citations
– Control of results belong to who gave you
money (for industry-funded work)
– But blow the whistle if you have to
• Ends do NOT matter, with few
Why Shouldn’t ENDS Matter?
• Is it evil to be a scientist for
– Committee to discredit the Shroud of Turin?
– Pollutive industries, coal-fired power plants?
– Cigarette companies?, Weapons suppliers?
• Shouldn’t they be engaged in an agenda?

• Shouldn’t science aim to improve the
human condition, make a better world?
– Why spend billions on pure research when
people all over are hungry or dying?
Science in the Philippines
• The First Local Scientists
• How We Are Different
– The Art of Begging
– Can You Name That Pinoy Scientist?
– Talks to self
– Hack, Prof or Civil Servant
– Jacks (and Jills) of All Trades
Hard Questions for Pinoy Scientists
• Should ethics of third-world scientists be the
same as those in rich countries?
– Should publishing papers few people read be their
lifelong goal?
• Shouldn’t addressing local problems be their
principal agenda?
– Given that they use precious limited resources
(human and financial), shouldn’t their output be
foreseeably beneficial to the country?
• Where should they go?
– Go to US, achieve more
– Stay home and serve