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What Is Scientific Discourse?

By Kenneth W. Michael Wills
Updated May 23, 2024
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Scientific discourse is the processes and methods used to communicate and debate scientific information. Discourse focuses on how to arrive at and how to present scientific ideas and thoughts, taking into account a diverse range of audiences. Those audiences include peers, students, teachers, the general public, business and government organizations, or any other potential audience that may benefit from or contribute to scientific theory and consensus. Communication in scientific discourse refers to both written and spoken communication and often involves methods of reasoning as well as vocabularies used to present information, conclusions and ideas. Due to the specialized nature of scientific information, discourse in science constantly evolves to account for the variation of potential understanding as well as the objectives intended among various audiences.

Developing and maintaining a formalized, consistent way of thinking is also central to scientific discourse. A common concept inherent to all physical and natural sciences is the scientific method that demonstrates such a discourse. Deploying the scientific method accurately across the various domains of science ensures peers that studies are carried out with the same standards uniformly and that the results can be trusted. Straying from the scientific method tends to skew research results, and scientists who do so can expect backlash from peers as well as other audiences who have a stake in the research conducted.

Another common aspect of scientific discourse is the approach to reasoning often found among all natural and physical sciences. When investigating a subject, scientists do not try and prove a theory, but instead focus on trying to disprove or falsify the theory. Agreeing to such a discourse allows for efficient communication among peers and most audiences in which scientific information is distributed. Rather than attempting to apply several modes of reasoning to solve scientific theories, one standard is utilized to mitigate risks associated with failing to understand individual reasoning, rather than scientific reasoning.

Furthermore, using consistent vocabularies and standards for written communication helps to ensure validity of research conducted. Publishing research in peer review journals, rather than simply self-publishing is one such example. Using this discourse not only allows peers to scrutinize scientific studies and efficiently share information, but it also demonstrates a degree of expertise for the publishing scientist to other audiences, such as academics and the general public. Although scientific discourse covers a broad range of subjects in addition to the aforementioned ones, it is these methods of reasoning that form the foundation of how such discourse usually proceeds.

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Discussion Comments
By anon962755 — On Jul 25, 2014

Politicians pander to popular belief. It should be no surprise that Christians largely contribute to the "standard" by which laws are made in the US. I posit that accepting blindly the "truths" that religion presents is a detriment to the free thinking capability of a human and only leads us into detriment. Christ was a god? Are you kidding me? The scriptures (not that they are to be trusted) even indicate that Christ did not fancy himself a god. If Christ did exist, he is nothing more than an iron age philosopher and an enemy of the state.

Let's move past this ancient and detrimental way of "thinking", please. It sickens me to know that some "scientists" believe in such fairy tale nonsense. Faith leads to nothing good.

By Logicfest — On Mar 01, 2014

Want to know how throw a big old monkey wrench right in the middle of any discussion that should be resolved through scientific discourse? Bring politics to the table. That is a huge problem in the United States these days -- scientist from the right, left and middle often allow political beliefs to become truths that are bound to prove and defend. Once that happens, truth goes right out the window to the point that even scientific conclusions can't be relied upon to convey the truth.

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