In talking about science , whether to the public or to students, we scientists often assume that they share with us a common idea of science. In my experience that is often not the case. To oversimplify, scientists think of science both as a process for discovering properties of nature and as the resulting body of knowledge, whereas most people seem to think of science, or perhaps scientists, as an authority that provides some information—just one more story among the many that they use to help make sense of their world.

Can we close that gap in understanding? Middle-school teachers typically spend a day or so teaching something called the scientific method, but the process by which scientific ideas are developed and tested is messier and much more interesting than that typical capsule description. Some remarkable features of the process are seldom stressed in teaching science, nor are they addressed...

You do not currently have access to this content.