"Is science a matter of fact or a matter of opinion"

Is science a matter of fact, or a matter of opinion ?

In a recent thread, one contribution stated, or implied, that science is not a matter of opinion.

What are your thoughts ?

The question raises an incomplete/false dichotomy IMO. There are scientifically established principles that can be demonstrated repeatedly and reliably. There are also scientific theories which are generally believed to be the case but for which no conclusive evidence exists - hence these are subject to a degree of belief aka opinion. Then there are phenomena for which science has no solid explanation and these are then open to a variety of explanations to which all sorts of beliefs/opinion may apply.


I would say it is a matter of opinion when the science is in research. Once the research has concluded & proven, then it is fact.

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The brief answer is both. Referring to medical science here generally.

Evidence comes In varying degrees of certainty, from proven to a statistically high degree, to lower levels of probability to GOBSAT. Good ol boys sat around a table.

Two keys are) understanding how the evidence has been acquired and what level of authority it carries (critical appraisal of the evidence) and b), realising that in biological systems virtually nothing is ‘always’ or ‘never’. So stuff can work for individuals despite evidence it maybe doesn’t for most.

The facts are as they are, opinion often comes into how they are appraised or implemented. Evidence often fails to answer all the questions we want it to.

Anyone who can only see black or white, good or bad may mistake that uncertainty as unscientific. In fact it is the essence of the scientific method.


The principle that it is impossible to prove a negative, only a positive complicates (or simplifies) things according to your perspective.

Equally, subjective experience cannot be gainsaid - hence why an objective phenomenon might generate very different subjective perceptions.

It is a fact science is opinion or do I mean it is an opinion that science is fact? Now where did I put that Ethernet cable?

Everything starts from axioms. We have to begin with some statements we think no sane man or woman would argue with and then build everything from there. If our axioms are false then understandings derived from them are probably false too.

At school we learn light is a continuous wave made up from discrete particles (photons). So what is it? Continuous or discrete?

We also learn the angles of a triangle add up to 180 degrees, which is true, except for the one I drew yesterday, but have misplaced, where the sum of its angles was early 181 degrees.

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I completely agree.

And hopefully, that is why it is worth having a discussion.

I phrased the question to keep it simple (and because that specific statement was made).

As I said in the other thread, in my view, the science of the Universe is not based on opinion, but much of our understanding of it, is.

At present, we have no idea as to whether we understand 1% or 99% of the science of the Universe. Well, IMHO. How reliable our understanding is, depends very much on the use to which we put our knowledge.

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Hi Mike,

I think that’s a very practical outlook, and much they way Ii also see things, but…

… I’m not always convinced we can be sure things are “proven”.

eg for sure, two aeroplanes heading towards each other each at 420kt will have a closing speed of 840kt and we can estimate the time to pass etc. At least accurately enough for virtually all purposes.

But then Einstein comes along and suggests a little tweak due to relativity ! oh! and then adds a further tweak due to something to do with “gravity” !!

So we allow for these “tweaks” in the atomic clocks in the GPS satellites.

They seem to work (they would anyway), but are there further, yet unknown “tweaks” ?

What science are we discussing?
Certainly some within themselves are fact, but how they are used with others are opinion - or a posit to speculate.

Hi Bruce, yes, IMHO we need to use our understanding of science within known (hopefully) limits of reliability. And the variations in the biology of “people” presumably make these limits very difficult to establish. (you only have two weeks left before retirement ?)

The initial statement “science is not opinion” was just that. No qualifications or limitations !

Well food science is a fact. Nutritional science maybe.
Newtonian physics is a fact. It’s relation with quantum physics is a speculation to further the collective opinion of everything.

Newtonian physics is an approximation, Einsteinian physics is a closer approximation. Understanding their relation with quantum physics is a work in progress to further the evolving understanding of everything.


One argument is that there are only 3 pure sciences & only they can be proven.
The only means of proving is mathematically
Therefore math, physics & chemistry are the only sciences that can be proven as a fact.

Global warming anyone ???

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Science is perhaps best summed up as what we know right now until the scientific method shows us otherwise.

The very discussion this one broke off from is a fine example of that. 20 to 30 years ago the broadly accepted science was that alcohol = impact on mental health. We now know so much more. Not enough to say that it doesn’t but enough to be able to say categorically at this point that there’s no proven link and the initial premise, once assumed “proven” or “a breakthrough” etc. was nothing of the sort. Genetics, neurobiology etc. have made sufficient strides to be able to at least say that much with confidence. Mind you, much scientific fact is spoken with confidence Tomorrow the picture will be different.

Science establishes a baseline of fact. That baseline constantly expands but it clearly also contracts in places as we learn what we didn’t know and don’t know.

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Exactly the point i was making above. But I didn’t have the heart to mention quantum physics or quantum anything ! :sunglasses:

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I (think) I heard a suggestion today that denial of global warming should be made a criminal offence ?

Not sure that “The Padded Cell” on the Naim Forum would provide any form of immunity from prosecution !

I would be pleased to recommend someone … the orange prison uniform would be most becoming.

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@Don, with all due respect, I think this “trick” question is probably meant for kids because it is neither.

Per the Oxford dictionary:
Sicence is the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.


Perhaps it should read social science rather than science?
:telescope::microscope:to be used for observation only …