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what does "scientist" mean,exactly?


ahmet
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7 hours ago, dimreepr said:

Isn't that the same definition as a priest?

:) surely, NO.

in fact the succint expression both for this comment and for the swansont's paragraph is that "scientist is anyone who does science"

I would add: "this is a reality"

Edited by ahmet
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Just now, CharonY said:

There are a lot of theoretical scientists. 

But theoretical scientists only write mathematical equations on paper.  They don't do any physical experiments,  to see if what they write actually works in the real world. 

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Just now, Charles 3781 said:

But theoretical scientists only write mathematical equations on paper.  They don't do any physical experiments,  to see if what they write actually works in the real world. 

That is my point. Theoretical physicists for example are clearly scientists, but they are not necessarily driven by the need to perform experiments. Or conversely, experiments are but on approach to science. 

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11 minutes ago, Charles 3781 said:

But theoretical scientists only write mathematical equations on paper.  They don't do any physical experiments,  to see if what they write actually works in the real world. 

Doing experiments is part of science. So is developing models, which are tested by those experiments.

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2 minutes ago, swansont said:

Doing experiments is part of science. So is developing models, which are tested by those experiments.

Yes, but haven't theoretical physicists developed models such as "String Theory".  A theory which apparently cannot be tested by any practical experiments.

If so,  is "String Theory" science?  Or just philosophical speculation.

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11 minutes ago, Charles 3781 said:

Yes, but haven't theoretical physicists developed models such as "String Theory".  A theory which apparently cannot be tested by any practical experiments.

If so,  is "String Theory" science?  Or just philosophical speculation.

Yes, if course it‚Äôs science. The question is whether String Theory deserves to be called ‚Äútheory‚ÄĚ not whether or not it‚Äôs science.

Special relativity took a few decades before it could be confirmed. Bose-Einstein condensation the better part of a century. Models are a part of science. Full stop.

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I prefer to think a scientist is anyone who thinks like a scientist.
And since that's circular, I'll re-phrase to someone who uses the scientific method to solve problems.

Is someone who gets his MSc, but decides to just teach ( without doing original research ) accepted and well-understood science to kids, not a scientist because he/she doesn't contribute to increasing our understanding ?
Is an engineer who applies known science, and doesn't contribute to increasing our understanding, not a scientist ?

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9 minutes ago, MigL said:

I prefer to think a scientist is anyone who thinks like a scientist.
And since that's circular, I'll re-phrase to someone who uses the scientific method to solve problems.

Is someone who gets his MSc, but decides to just teach ( without doing original research ) accepted and well-understood science to kids, not a scientist because he/she doesn't contribute to increasing our understanding ?
Is an engineer who applies known science, and doesn't contribute to increasing our understanding, not a scientist ?

In my mind I do see a distinction between teaching, applying science and contributing to science. Perhaps a distinction could be "active" scientist. I do think that the mindset is different for each of these cases. Take MDs, for example. Those that mostly work as physicians do have quite a different skill set and approach to those that are involved in scientific projects.

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7 minutes ago, CharonY said:

hose that mostly work as physicians do have quite a different skill set and approach to those that are involved in scientific projects.

Mostly because they have to deal with people's 'emotions', to which the scientific method cannot be applied.

Besides, if I use my definition, I can call myself a 'scientist'.

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2 minutes ago, MigL said:

Mostly because they have to deal with people's 'emotions', to which the scientific method cannot be applied.

Besides, if I use my definition, I can call myself a 'scientist'.

I am not sure what you mean. There are whole scientific areas dealing with emotions mood and similar brain function.

Anyway, I think as whole it is a label that has very little utility in most situations. In some cases it makes sense to distinguish folks with different levels of training, in others it may be more about activity. In certain others we might talk about mindsets (which in my mind is the most nebulous way to think about it). 

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2 minutes ago, CharonY said:

There are whole scientific areas dealing with emotions mood and similar brain function.

Science is by definition, repeatable.
Emotional responses don't allow for that.

But I agree that the term 'scientist' is nebulous at best.
Another example … Is someone who tries to expand our knowledge, either through experiment or theory, using the scientific method, but doesn't actually accomplish anything a 'scientist ' ?
( see A Einstein in his later years, working on a unified field theory; would anyone say he wasn't a scientist ? )

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4 minutes ago, Charles 3781 said:

Do you think that a "Sociologist" is really a scientist, in the same sense that a "Physicist" or "Chemist" is?  

No. Sociology is a social science, not a physical science. 

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13 minutes ago, MigL said:

Emotional responses don't allow for that.

Oh you would be surprised. There are a number of tests and measures that result in fairly reproducible results (or at least similarly reproducible as other measures with uncertainties). 

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2 minutes ago, CharonY said:

Oh you would be surprised. There are a number of tests and measures that result in fairly reproducible results (or at least similarly reproducible as other measures with uncertainties). 

Uhm.  When you say "fairly reproducible results"... "with uncertainties",  does that sound like Science in its true sense?  

I mean, couldn't Scientists such as Physicists and Chemists, provide exact answers to questions?

 

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7 minutes ago, Charles 3781 said:

hm.  When you say "fairly reproducible results"... "with uncertainties",  does that sound like Science in its true sense?  

Absolutely and it depends on the complexity of the system. Simple and well controlled systems allow for precise predictions. Complex systems come with uncertainties attached. You cannot predict precisely, for example what is going to happen if you get exposed to a pathogen. However, we can tell a range of likelihoods of what to expect. 

 

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50 minutes ago, MigL said:

 

But I agree that the term 'scientist' is nebulous at best.
Another example … Is someone who tries to expand our knowledge, either through experiment or theory, using the scientific method, but doesn't actually accomplish anything a 'scientist ' ?
( see A Einstein in his later years, working on a unified field theory; would anyone say he wasn't a scientist ? )

Not even that. Under the scenario offered by Charles, Einstein would not have become a scientist until Eddington confirmed GR. Which is ridiculous.

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4 minutes ago, CharonY said:

Absolutely and it depends on the complexity of the system. Simple and well controlled systems allow for precise predictions. Complex systems come with uncertainties attached. You cannot predict precisely, for example what is going to happen if you get exposed to a pathogen. However, we can tell a range of likelihoods of what to expect. 

Well that's not Science.  Science means you can make precise predictions.  Otherwise, it's just well=informed guess-work.  Like, when you mention pathogens, such as the Covid-19 virus, there is no science in predictions of how the virus will affect people.

Just now, swansont said:

Not even that. Under the scenario offered by Charles, Einstein would not have become a scientist until Eddington confirmed GR. Which is ridiculous.

Haven't Eddington's so-called "photographic" proofs of star-displacements caused by Einsteinian effects, long been called into question and discredited?

 

 

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6 hours ago, Charles 3781 said:

Well that's not Science.  Science means you can make precise predictions.  Otherwise, it's just well=informed guess-work.  Like, when you mention pathogens, such as the Covid-19 virus, there is no science in predictions of how the virus will affect people.

That is a ridiculous criterion, as it would mean that science is in fact limited to a tiny aspect of our natural world and would by default exclude all stochastic processes (like say, radioactive decay or biochemical reactions).

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