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What makes you a scientist? Degree? Job?

  1. Jul 20, 2011 #1
    Hello everyone! I hope this is the correct spot for this question. Basically I was wondering who exactly can call themselves a scientist? I have several co-workers who have degrees in Environmental Science. We do not work in that field though. And during several debates - one in which they were arguing that Einstein hadn't "proved" anything and that it was all "theory". I was trying to explain to them that "theory" within science is not the same as in lay conversation. I explained that "theorys" explain facts. For example gravity is a fact. And the "theory of gravity" explains that fact. They responded to me - "Well, I'm a scientist. I have a degree in Environmental Science. And I'm telling you you're incorrect".

    I do not have a degree in any science so basically they feel as though my understanding of anything scientific is meaningless because I have no credentials.

    But back to my question. Does having a degree in Biology or Physics or Chemistry...etc....make you a scientist? Or does it simply say you have the credentials to get a job in that field of science? I'm not even sure that an Environmental Science degree is a "real" science degree actually. But I was hoping someone could shed some light on this for me!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 20, 2011 #2
    Your co-workers must be recent graduates. "Scientist" is a job title. Theories are verified and accepted to be true. They are using the same fallacy that theists frequently use. Correct me if I am wrong, because I don't have one of those fancy "science" degrees yet either.
     
  4. Jul 20, 2011 #3
    Scientists are supposed to use clean proper logic.

    That's the most basic form of the appeal from autority

    Obviously the use of fallacies is not very scientific.
     
  5. Jul 20, 2011 #4

    russ_watters

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    For people with science type degrees, they know disturbingly little about science!
    I would say that a degree means that at one time, they trained to be scientists but are not currently scientists. "Scientist", "engineer", "drunken bastard" - these all describe what you are doing right now.
     
  6. Jul 20, 2011 #5
    You would think right? But both of them graduated about 10 years ago. I didn't want to insult them by comparing them to creationist but their arguments were exactly the same that I've seen from the religious side! They both also told me that humans stopped evolving. I explained to them that there are recent adaptations that prove thats not true. Like lactose tolerance. They laughed and said that of course small changes occur but humans won't change into a new species like we did in the past. I wasn't sure how to respond to that other then to explain to them that evolution doesn't work that way. Species don't just leap frog from one thing to the next over night. Its hard to argue though when you've got a room full of people who don't give your opinion any weight because you lack a degree. I checked out the curriculum of environmental science and you do have to take Biology 1 and 2. So I just don't understand how college graduates with passing grades don't understand the very basics of what these theories say....
     
  7. Jul 20, 2011 #6
    Thank you for that link! I wish I knew about that and was able to explain it during my debate with them! I need to read up on debating tactics, fallacies..etc. I KNOW something is wrong when I'm debating people when they say certain things....like they aren't using logic. But I'm not currently smart enough to point it out clearly. I tend to get emotional quickly in these situations because of this. It's so frustrating!
     
  8. Jul 20, 2011 #7
    This is simply not true as you can see for yourself by reading his 1905 paper "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies". This is the famous special theory of relativity. In it he sets out to prove that the luminiferous ether is an unnecessary assumption. At the bottom of the second paragraph you will find:

    On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies

    In the paper, he introduces the two postulates of special relativity and uses them successfully to prove his point. What he does not prove, for obvious reasons, are the postulates themselves. They are the theory.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2011
  9. Jul 20, 2011 #8

    Evo

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    No.

    I know people with degrees in the sciences and then I know scientists.

    To me, scientists are the ones that are actively working in growing/advancing scientific knowledge.
     
  10. Jul 20, 2011 #9

    Pengwuino

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    A high school teacher with a BS in physics from Caltech and a PhD in Theoretical Physics from MIT is still a high school teacher.

    And to add to what people say..... it sounds like your co-workers degrees aren't worth the paper they're printed on. What they said is almost an insult to their field.
     
  11. Jul 20, 2011 #10
    But you don't get Phd just for taking some graduate courses.

    However, I think one need to be in active in the R&D field to continue claiming the title of Scientist.
     
  12. Jul 21, 2011 #11

    Pythagorean

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    Active research on grant money, publishing.
     
  13. Jul 21, 2011 #12

    Ryan_m_b

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    Having a degree doesn't make you a scientist. To be a scientist you have to employ the scientific method to research and publish your findings. And if I were you I'd buy your friends a book along the lines of "Scientific Method for Dummies".
     
  14. Jul 21, 2011 #13
    A scientist is someone with some education who agrees with you.
     
  15. Jul 21, 2011 #14

    Pengwuino

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    Perfect!

    Agreed.
     
  16. Jul 21, 2011 #15
    For example, Pengwuino is a scientist.
     
  17. Jul 21, 2011 #16

    Ryan_m_b

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  18. Jul 21, 2011 #17
    Now that's a scientist. She can call the theory of relativity a theory any time she wants. And have no fear, I will agree with her.
     
  19. Jul 21, 2011 #18

    Ryan_m_b

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    Now this woman clearly isn't a scientist; http://bit.ly/pc8ty0 if she were she would know that you should have a notepad with you when looking down a microscope.
     
  20. Jul 21, 2011 #19
    What microscope?
     
  21. Jul 21, 2011 #20

    Ryan_m_b

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    :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
     
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