Impractical Science

Something that irks me is the notion that the only science worthy of being conducted is that which has a direct practical application. I think if humans were omniscient enough to know what is useful, then we really would be past doing science.

Photo by Roxanne Shewchuk on

The case which prompted this post: the reconstruction of a mummy larynx. True, it doesn’t directly help a living person. Plenty of people damage theirs in car accidents, falls, etc. By acquiring an 3D image of the person’s and building a replica, we could replace lost ones. And the person could have their same voice. Voice is part of identity given we recognize others by the sound of theirs. Mechanical replacements that sound inhuman are like wheelchairs: approximation, but the user still loses a lot.

Science and technology are collaborative endeavors. Others replicate a finding. They take an idea and do something similar but different to see if there were hidden variables that change the finding. Or, produce a product from the idea.

Too much focus on practical science is what led us to the Replication Crisis in psychology. People needing a useful result, meant not enough people replicating experiments to see if the results held. Mythical results went years without anyone publishing they were bunk.

How to Raise a Science Lover

The best place to begin would be trying to make science something that you discuss within you home on a regular basis. This will familiarize your child with the subject, making it feel less daunting, while also showing them how interesting it can be and how important it is in the real world. You should also try and encourage curiosity within your child, by answering any questions they have about the world around them to the best of your abilities. There may be times that you don’t know the answers, but rather than shrugging it off, it would be better to help your child do some research and figure it out together.

How to Raise a Science Lover. The Stevenson Life

We have a good start. We have a good library of baby books that tackle scientific subjects. And, I enjoy connecting those to real life. When there is a fall, after the crying, we talk about gravity or friction. The effect had a cause, so I am pointing the attention to the cause.

The issue I have is with the concept of science as answer regurgitation. The challenge will be developing the understanding the Scientific Method. Question, hypothesis, prediction, test, evaluate. Plus data recording, replication, peer review.

The really entertaining part is she has a focus on causation. Science methodically seeks to explain it.


My father told me a story that sounds exactly like me.

My parents were called to have a parent teacher conference over my refusal to accept I was wrong. Apparently, the teacher had asked a question and the answer I gave was not the one in the textbook. However, I insisted that I had the right answer because I had read in a science magazine not long before about a new discovery.

Fleur’s science books

My father said he counseled me to not challenge the teacher in front of the other kids. Thinking back, I really never took that lesson to heart.

One of my favorite high school stories is in science bowl answering that Saturn had more moons than Jupiter. The teacher (the superintendent a couple years later) was excited I got it wrong. I argued Jupiter had sixteen. But a few more were discovered for Saturn bringing it up to 18. To this day we are still still finding moons for these planets and who has more flip flops. The question depends on current knowledge.

Thankfully, the student teacher was aware and came to my defense. I got the question right.

Fleur has lots of science books already. I already explain science concepts. We will do many experiments together. And, she will be kept current on the state of knowledge because I get excited when I learn about a new discovery.