You Must Not ‘Do Your Own Research’ When It Comes To Science (2023)

“Research both sides and make up your own mind.” It’s simple, straightforward, common sense advice. And when it comes to issues like vaccinations, climate change, and the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, it can be dangerous, destructive, and even deadly. The techniques that most of us use to navigate most of our decisions in life — gathering information, evaluating it based on what we know, and choosing a course of action — can lead to spectacular failures when it comes to a scientific matter.

The reason is simple: most of us, even those of us who are scientists ourselves, lack the relevant scientific expertise needed to adequately evaluate that research on our own. In our own fields, we are aware of the full suite of data, of how those puzzle pieces fit together, and what the frontiers of our knowledge is. When laypersons espouse opinions on those matters, it’s immediately clear to us where the gaps in their understanding are and where they’ve misled themselves in their reasoning. When they take up the arguments of a contrarian scientist, we recognize what they’re overlooking, misinterpreting, or omitting. Unless we start valuing the actual expertise that legitimate experts have spent lifetimes developing, “doing our own research” could lead to immeasurable, unnecessary suffering.

Let’s start with a simple, low-stakes example: fluoridated drinking water. On the one hand, fluoride is a simple ion that shows up in various concentrations, including naturally through calcium fluoride, in bodies of water all across the world. When humans ingest too little of it, particularly at a young age, it leads to weakened tooth enamel and greater rates of cavities; when humans ingest too much of it, it leads to tooth discoloration and various severities of dental fluorosis. In extreme cases, significantly too much or too little fluoride can also lead to other problems, such as osteoporosis (with too little) or skeletal fluorosis (with too much).

In most places in the United States and Canada, our drinking water is fluoridated at a specific level that’s safe and effective for humans of all ages. In places like Colorado Springs, CO, significant amounts of fluoride are removed from the water, bringing the levels down to acceptable values; in other places, like New York City, NY, fluoride is added to bring the levels up to acceptable values. Controlling the fluoride levels of water is a safe and effective public health intervention, reducing dental caries in children by 40% where it is implemented versus places where it isn’t implemented.


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(Video) You Must Not ‘Do Your Own Research’ When It Comes To Science - We Said So - Obey Now
(Video) You Must Not ‘Do Your Own Research’ When It Comes To Science

And yet, there are major cities in the world, like Portland, OR or Calgary, Alberta, where the public or city council, respectively, has voted (in the case of Portland, repeatedly) to not add fluoride to their drinking water. As expected, the typical cavity rates in children — when controlled for socioeconomic demographics — are about 40% higher than in places where the water is fluoridated, hitting those of lower economic demographics the hardest. The idea that “our water is natural” and “adding fluoride isn’t” has proven more powerful in swaying public opinion in these locations than the science supporting fluoride’s safety and effectiveness. To the voting public, a fear of chemicals and an affinity for what feels natural was more compelling than the dental health of poor children, despite near-universal support from dental health professionals.

There’s an old saying that I’ve grown quite fond of recently: you can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into. When most of us “research” an issue, what we are actually doing is:

  • formulating an initial opinion the first time we hear about something,
  • evaluating everything we encounter after that through that lens of our gut instinct,
  • finding reasons to think positively about the portions of the narrative that support or justify our initial opinion,
  • and finding reasons to discount or otherwise dismiss the portions that detract from it.

Of course, that’s not what we think we’re doing. We think of ourselves as the heroes of our stories: cutting through misinformation and digging up the real truth on the matter. We think that, just by applying our brainpower and our critical reasoning skills, we can discern whose expert opinions are trustworthy and responsible. We think that we can see through who’s a charlatan and a fraud, and we can tell what’s safe and effective from what’s dangerous and ineffective.

Except, for almost all of us, we can’t. Even those of us with excellent critical thinking skills and lots of experience trying to dig up the truth behind a variety of claims are lacking one important asset: the scientific expertise necessary to understand any finds or claims in the context of the full state of knowledge of your field. It’s part of why scientific consensus is so remarkably valuable: it only exists when the overwhelming majority of qualified professionals all hold the same consistent professional opinion. It truly is one of the most important and valuable types of expertise that humanity has ever developed.

But only if we listen to it. It’s absolutely foolish to think that you, a non-expert who lacks the very scientific expertise necessary to evaluate the claims of experts, are going to do a better job than the actual, bona fide experts of separating truth from fiction or fraud. When we “do the research for ourselves,” we almost always wind up digging in deeper to our own knee-jerk positions, rather than deferring to the professional opinions of the consensus of experts.


When it comes to fluoridated drinking water, the consequences may only be mild: cosmetic, barely visible markings on your teeth in the case of over-fluoridation or a slight weakening of your tooth enamel in the case of under-fluoridation. But in the cases of a number of public policy measures — vaccinations, climate change, or the science of the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes in humans, COVID-19 — the stakes are much higher. The consequences of getting it wrong can lead to permanent consequences and may even be a life-or-death matter for many.

When left to their own devices, a substantial fraction of people will choose not to fully vaccinate themselves or their children. In some schools, up to 60% of children can be unvaccinated against preventable diseases such as measles, leading to a resurgence of diseases that should be eradicated. Many parents have a greater fear of adverse consequences from vaccines, despite the fact that — other than skin irritation at the injection sites — medical complications are extraordinarily rare (occurring in far less than 0.01% of patients) and occur no more frequently than random chance would indicate.

The science overwhelmingly indicates that vaccines are one of the safest public health interventions ever undertaken by humanity. But if you “do your own research,” you can find a small percentage of online activists, and even a few medical professionals, who rail against the overwhelming science, pushing discredited claims, fear, and often unproven cures or supplements as well. This fraud-driven controversy created an enormous public health disaster that’s still ongoing today.

Similarly, in the field of climate science, it’s overwhelmingly well-understood that:

  • the Earth is warming,
  • and local climate patterns are changing,
  • caused by changes in the concentration of gases in our atmosphere,
  • driven by human-caused emission of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels,
  • and that this is having a number of adverse consequences: causing changes in food supplies, water availability, and land use all across the world.

This has been scientifically known and accepted by the consensus of active climate scientists for more than 30 years, and yet a sustained misinformation campaign — as well as a few contrarian scientists — has sown sufficient doubt that anyone who is determined to “do their own research” can find boatloads of websites and documents confirming whatever conspiratorial line of thought they prefer. It doesn’t change the scientific truth, but it has led to unprecedented inaction in the face of a problem with long-term, negative, planet-wide consequences.

Right now, as we enter the month of August during the year 2020, it’s a critical time for the United States and the world. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic, as the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes in humans, COVID-19, has claimed the lives of more than two-thirds of a million people. In the United States alone, more than 150,000 have died, with each new day adding an average of over 1,000 new deaths at present.


Although there’s still much to learn about the science of this, from how it spreads to who is most likely to spread it to what the best treatments are to the true infection rate and so on, there’s a lot that the scientific experts have achieved a consensus about. In particular:

  • the disease is airborne and easily spread from person-to-person contact,
  • it’s more easily spread in indoor settings,
  • older people are more likely to get critically ill and die from it,
  • staying home except for essential errands,
  • and the interventions of wearing masks when you go out, not touching your mask once its on, and remaining physically distant (2 meters/6 feet minimum) from others not in your household are all effective.

But even those basic messages — for which there’s virtually no scientific doubt surrounding them — have sparked enormous amounts of controversy. Despite the safety and efficacy of masks, many are refusing to wear them, leading to spikes in new infections. Despite the importance of avoiding close contact with others not a part of your household, many people continue to visit friends and relatives, accelerating the spread of the disease. Despite the fact that over 150,000 Americans have already died from it, many continue to claim “it’s just like the flu,” even though the last time 150,000 or more Americans died from the flu was 1918: the year of the infamous Spanish flu.

If you “do your own research,” you can no doubt find innumerable websites, social media accounts, and even a handful of medical professionals who are sharing opinions that confirm whatever your preconceived notions about COVID-19 are. However, do not fool yourself: you are not doing research. You are seeking information to confirm your own biases and discredit any contrary opinions. Each time you do this, you exemplify the problem of anti-science bias that Dr. Fauci warned about in June:

“If you go by the evidence and by the data, you're speaking the truth and it's amazing sometimes, the denial there is. It's the same thing that gets people who are anti-vaxxers - who don't want people to get vaccinated, even though the data clearly indicate the safety of vaccines. That's really a problem.”

There is no excuse, with all the wonderful scientists and science communicators telling the truth about a whole slew of issues in our world, for people to seek out only the opinions that confirm their own biases. The best scientists in the world — even the ones who hold contrarian beliefs of their own — all agree that we should base our policies on the scientific consensus that we’ve achieved. When that consensus changes, evolves, or moves forward because we’ve learned more than we previously knew, we should correct course to follow that novel path instead.

But that requires a kind of transformation within yourself. It means that you need to be humble, and admit that you, yourself, lack the necessary expertise to evaluate the science before you. It means that you need to be brave enough to turn to the consensus of scientific experts and ask, legitimately, what we know at the present stage. And it means you need to be open-minded enough to understand that your preconceptions are quite likely to be wrong in some, many, or possibly even all ways. If we listen to the science, we can attempt to take the best path possible forward through the greatest challenges facing modern society. We can choose to ignore it, but if we do, the consequences will only increase in severity.

(Video) Forbes: Don't Research Science, Trust Us


Can we consider research as a science? ›

Research is “scientific” if it follows the “scientific method” This usually involves the following steps Question; Hypothesis; Prediction; Testing; Quantitative Results; Replicability.

What are the rules of scientific research? ›

Scientific method should be neutral, objective, rational, and as a result, should be able to approve or disapprove the hypothesis. The research plan should include the procedure to obtain data and evaluate the variables. It should ensure that analyzable data are obtained.

What is scientific research in your own understanding? ›

Research conducted for the purpose of contributing towards science by the systematic collection, interpretation and evaluation of data and that, too, in a planned manner is called scientific research: a researcher is the one who conducts this research.

How do you conduct your own research? ›

Depending on your familiarity with the topic and the challenges you encounter along the way, you may need to rearrange these steps.
  1. Step 1: Identify and develop your topic. ...
  2. Step 2 : Do a preliminary search for information. ...
  3. Step 3: Locate materials. ...
  4. Step 4: Evaluate your sources. ...
  5. Step 5: Make notes. ...
  6. Step 6: Write your paper.

What is the importance of research in science? ›

Scientific research is a critical tool for successfully navigating our complex world. Without it, we would be forced to rely solely on intuition, other people's authority, and blind luck.

Are science and research the same thing? ›

Research is a careful, detailed and systematic study of a thing or a phenomenon to learn something new about it or studying it from a new perspective. Scientific method is just a way of conducting a research.

What is the first rule of science? ›

Rule 1 We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances. Rule 2 Therefore to the same natural effects we must, as far as possible, assign the same causes.

What are the 5 main rules in science? ›

What are the five scientific laws? The five most popular scientific laws are Hooke's Law of Elasticity, Archimedes' Principle of Buoyancy, Dalton's Law of Partial Pressures, Bernoulli's Law of Fluid Dynamics and Fourier's Law of Heat Conduction.

What are the five rules of science? ›

Next, we will discuss each of the five rules.
  • Logical. Being logical is the main thing for scientific arguments to have. ...
  • Clear. Any research findings should be written and published so that the findings can be used for others and become useful. ...
  • Accurate. ...
  • Concise. ...
  • Audience-dependence. ...
  • Conclusion.
24 Oct 2021

Why research is not only concern with discovering or creating new things it is because? ›

Research is not only concerned with discovering or creating new things but also with the following things: Research reveals new possibilities and it builds up ideas that are sure to lead towards a solution to some problems. Research develops an understanding of the subject and the area which is being researched.

What is the purpose of research? ›

The purpose of research is to inform action. Thus, your study should seek to contextualize its findings within the larger body of research. Research must always be of high quality in order to produce knowledge that is applicable outside of the research setting.

Which of the following is true about the scientific method? ›

The scientific method is an organized process to do science. The scientific method uses an experiment to test a hypothesis. The scientific method looks for cause and effect relationships between event.

What makes a good research? ›

Good research is replicable, reproducible, and transparent. Replicability, reproducibility, and transparency are some of the most important characteristics of research. The replicability of a research study is important because this allows other researchers to test the study's findings.

Where will you conduct your research? ›

Discover 10 research sources you should consider, including the Internet.
  • of 10. The Internet. Hero Images / Getty Images. ...
  • of 10. Libraries. Bruce Bi / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images. ...
  • of 10. Books. ...
  • of 10. Newspapers. ...
  • of 10. Magazines. ...
  • of 10. Documentaries and DVDs. ...
  • of 10. Government Offices. ...
  • of 10. Museums.
3 Mar 2019

How can I do better research? ›

5 ways to improve your research skills
  1. Learn the art of searching and plan your search strategy. ...
  2. Trace citations to unlock the scholarly conversation on your topic over time. ...
  3. Explore Expert help guides related to your research. ...
  4. Systematically record and manage your references. ...
  5. Meet with your Senior Library Learning Advisor.
1 May 2020

Why is research important in science and education? ›

The process of research is the essence of the scientific enterprise and of scientific inquiry. Science education builds on the best of research in both worlds—science and education. By engaging in continual inquiry into teaching and learning, we can promote scientific literacy for students in the 21st century.

What is the importance of learning how do you conduct research scientifically? ›

It's a tool for building knowledge and facilitating learning. It's a means to understand issues and increase public awareness. It helps us succeed in business. It allows us to disprove lies and support truths.

Why is research important to a student in a special science school? ›

Research can now substantiate the many teaching methods educators use. This validation has helped many innovations in instructional strategy and classroom design gain traction and enjoy wide implementation. It has helped broaden their scope significantly more than teacher collaboration and sharing alone.

What is the difference between scientific research and simple research? ›

Scientific research is a investigating and acquiring or expanding our understanding whereas nonscientific research is acquiring knowledge and truths about the world using techniques that do not follow the scientific method. Was this answer helpful?

What makes science research unique with other types of research? ›

Unlike art, philosophy, religion and other ways of knowing, science is based on empirical research. A scientist conducts this research to answer a question that she or he has about the natural world. Empirical research relies on systematic observation and experimentation, not on opinions and feelings.

How research and scientific method are related? ›

In a typical application of the scientific method, a researcher develops a hypothesis, tests it through various means, and then modifies the hypothesis on the basis of the outcome of the tests and experiments.

What are the four rules of science? ›

Laws in Science

Newton's first law of motion. Newton's second law of motion. Newton's law of universal gravitation. Law of conservation of mass.

What are the science principles? ›

Among the very basic principles that guide scientists, as well as many other scholars, are those expressed as respect for the integrity of knowledge, collegiality, honesty, objectivity, and openness.

Which of the following is the correct step of scientific method? ›

Hence, the correct option is A) Ask questions, make a hypothesis, test the hypothesis, analyze results, draw conclusions, communicate results.

What is the most important thing in science? ›

In order to do scientific activity, to know the truth of nature through study or research, scientist must do that based on empiricism, experimentation and methodological. Those three foundations in science are integrated into a so-called scientific method. This is the most important thing in science.

What are 10 safety rules for science? ›

Top 10 Science Safety Rules
  • Wear the proper lab attire when doing a experiment. ...
  • When handling chemicals during the lab it is important to proceed with caution.
  • Treat all lab equipment with respect throughout the experiment.
  • With broken glass DO NOT TOUCH IT. ...
  • No eating/drinking inside the lab.

What are the five steps of the scientific method? ›

Here are the five steps.
  • Define a Question to Investigate. As scientists conduct their research, they make observations and collect data. ...
  • Make Predictions. Based on their research and observations, scientists will often come up with a hypothesis. ...
  • Gather Data. ...
  • Analyze the Data. ...
  • Draw Conclusions.

What would play the most important role in leading to an experiment in the scientific world becoming a scientific law? ›

What would play the most important role in leading to an experiment in the scientific world becoming a scientific law? Further testing would need to show it is a universally followed rule. The observation would have to be described in a published scientific article.

Which of the following is an example of scientific theory? ›

Evolution, plate tectonics, and the Big Bang are all examples of scientific theories. Theories are very important in science, but in science a theory is never a hunch or a guess. A scientific theory is a broad explanation that is widely accepted because it is supported by a great deal of evidence.

Why does a student researcher need to set an objective prior to the conduct of research? ›

Having clear objectives will set you on a path to achieving your main aim and help you get the most useful insight possible. Most research projects that go wrong lead back to objectives not being clearly defined or understood. Unclear or cursory objectives can lead to irrelevant data, or insights that lack depth.

Why is it that we need a clear statement of the problem? ›

A problem statement is important to a process improvement project because it helps clearly identify the goals of the project and outline the scope of a project. It also helps guide the activities and decisions of the people who are working on the project.

What is the impact of research to you as an individual Brainly? ›

This is Expert Verified Answer

The main benefit of conducting research is to increase your knowledge. There is always more to learn, even if you are an authority in your profession.

What is the importance of research process essay? ›

The research process allows you to gain expertise on a topic of your choice, and the writing process helps you remember what you have learned and understand it on a deeper level.

What is the main purpose of research project? ›

Summary. The purpose of research is to enhance society by advancing knowledge through the development of scientific theories, concepts and ideas.

What is the purpose of research in social science? ›

The objective of social research is to identify the cause-and-effect relationship between social problems so that these problems can be solved to enhance societal welfare. This method of research is employed by researchers and social scientists for many different reasons, some of which we will explore in this article.

Which of the following is a true goal of scientific study? ›

The goal of scientific research is to discover laws and postulate theories that can explain natural or social phenomena, or in other words, build scientific knowledge.

Which of the following are steps in the process through which researchers conduct the scientific method select all that apply? ›

The six steps of the scientific method include: 1) asking a question about something you observe, 2) doing background research to learn what is already known about the topic, 3) constructing a hypothesis, 4) experimenting to test the hypothesis, 5) analyzing the data from the experiment and drawing conclusions, and 6) ...

Which of the following must be true for scientific results to be valid? ›

Which of the following must be true for scientific results to be valid? The results must be drawn in a graph. The results should be based on evidence. The results should support the ideas of other scientists.

What makes a successful and effective research? ›

A good research involves systematic planning and setting time-based, realistic objectives. It entails feasible research methods based upon a research methodology that best suits the nature of your research question. It is built upon sufficient relevant data and is reproducible and replicable.

What makes a successful and effective research essay? ›

A successful research paper fulfills the objective of increasing readers' knowledge of a given subject. It also accurately, concisely, and comprehensively relays unbiased information on that subject: information that, of course, must include valid evidence to support the premise.

How do you know if a scientific paper is good? ›

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to determine if a study and its findings are reliable.
  1. What is the study saying? ...
  2. Was it properly designed? ...
  3. Was it peer-reviewed? ...
  4. Is it in a quality journal? ...
  5. Did the researchers disclose their conflicts of interest?
21 Jul 2017

Which of the following is the most important step of any research process? ›

Without doubt, defining the problem is the most important step in the research process. Defining the problem sets the foundation for the entire project, so it is critically important to take the time to do this well.

What are the things that you need to consider in conducting the research? ›

Factors to consider when developing a research project
  • Relevance of the topic. How relevant is the topic to you, personally? ...
  • Duplication. While replicability is important in business psychology research, we should pay attention to the possibility of duplicating a research study. ...
  • Feasibility.

How important is research in your daily life activities? ›

Research empowers us with knowledge

We get to know the way of nature, and how our actions affect it. We gain a deeper understanding of people, and why they do the things they do. Best of all, we get to enrich our lives with the latest knowledge of health, nutrition, technology, and business, among others.

What is effective research? ›

reviewing past studies or conducting new studies to evaluate how well current and new treatments work, with the aim of improving the care and treatment of patients.

How students can improve their research skills? ›

Students can improve their research skills by being comfortable asking questions, understanding how to organize information, learning how to find credible sources, and more.

Is research science or art? ›

Research, the manufacture of knowledge, is currently practiced largely as an “art,” not a “science.” Just as science (understanding) and technology (tools) have revolutionized the manufacture of other goods and services, it is natural, perhaps inevitable, that they will ultimately also be applied to the manufacture of ...

What is the best considered as scientific? ›

A good scientific question is one that can have an answer and be tested. For example: “Why is that a star?” is not as good as “What are stars made of?”

What is a non scientific research? ›

Nonscientific research is acquiring knowledge and truths about the world using techniques that do not follow the scientific method. For instance, Plato was a large proponent of some of these, and Freud's theories use several of them as well.

What's another word for scientific research? ›

What is another word for scientific research?
scientific methodresearch cycle
scientific methodologymethodology of science
scientific analysisscientific investigation
scientific proceduresystematic investigation

Why is science more important than art? ›

Reasons why Science is Better than Art

In comparison to the arts, science has the power to enhance our lives statistically. For example, over the years, advances in medical research have saved countless lives and improved our standard of living.

Why is art important in science Brainly? ›

Answer. Answer: The reason why art is necessary to science because creativity involves imagination, and imagination is visualization. ... Often times, the ability to visualize and imagine certain processes is important to solving scientific problems.

Why research is an art of scientific investigation? ›

Research is an art of scientific investigation. It refers to a search for knowledge. It is a scientific and systematic search for pertinent information on a specific topic. It is actually a voyage of discovery, a movement from the known to the unknown.

What is science simple answer? ›

Science is the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence. Scientific methodology includes the following: Objective observation: Measurement and data (possibly although not necessarily using mathematics as a tool)

Which of the following is true about the scientific method? ›

The scientific method is an organized process to do science. The scientific method uses an experiment to test a hypothesis. The scientific method looks for cause and effect relationships between event.

What is an example of scientific research? ›

For example, a researcher can gather and analyze the data from the social anxiety survey to determine if there is a relationship between social anxiety and cell phone use. During this stage, scientists determine whether or not their findings are statistically significant.

What is not scientific is not worth studying Agree or disagree? ›

c) What is not scientific is not worth studying. I strongly disagree with this statement. I don't rely on science that much that is why I could say that everything can be worth studying, especially if it is something you are passionate about. May it be science, religion, philosophy, mathematics, etc.

What is not related to science? ›

Areas of non-science

Non-science encompasses all of the humanities, including: history, including the history of science, the language arts, such as linguistics, specific languages, and literature, philosophy, ethics, and religion, and.

Which of these is not a step of the scientific method? ›

Answer and Explanation: The choice that is not a part of the scientific method is (a), the theory of relativity. The hypothesis, experimentation, data analysis and conclusion are all steps in the scientific method.

What is research in one word? ›

studious inquiry or examination; especially : investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws. 3. the collecting of information about a particular ...

What word is related to research? ›

synonyms for research
  • analysis.
  • exploration.
  • inquiry.
  • investigation.
  • probe.
  • delving.
  • experimentation.
  • groundwork.

What is meant by scientific work? ›

Scientific Work means research, advisory, teaching and/or development or specialist scientific duties of such a scientific nature as to require the possession and utilisation of a post-graduate university degree in order that they may be properly performed.


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