Other Question #3432

rebecca, a 26 year old female from Adelaide asks on May 3, 2006,

What is the difference between science and sciencing?

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The answer

Barry Shell answered on May 5, 2006

The term "sciencing" was first used by American anthropologist Leslie White in a 1938 essay titled “Science is Sciencing”. White underscored that “science” was not simply a “body of data but a technique of interpretation.”  He was defining the concept of "scientific culture" and used the term sciencing to indicate a type of behavior that defined the culture. 

Another reader pointed out that the word is used by a nurse named Rosemarie Rizzo Parse in a book about rigorous methods "from the science of unitary human beings" (see comment below). It appears to be a sort of new-age approach to nursing.

Sciencing is also used to describe a method of teaching science to elementary school children. In the 1990 book "Sciencing: an involvement approach to elementary science methods" the authors Sandra Cain and Jack Evans describe the qualities of a "sciencing teacher". Numerous books on sciencing in teaching are available on Google Books.

The term also appears in the Singapore school curriculum where it is apparently intended to be a softer version of the concept of scientific inquiry. One reviewer of a "sciencing" book for children said:

"The reader should be aware that the authors define "science" as the classic non-inquiry-based, fact-driven mode of teaching science, rather than as the scientific process itself. They use the term "sciencing" for making predictions, setting up experiments, testing hypotheses, collecting data, and examining results. One reviewer expressed concern that this definition inadvertently misinterprets the true nature of science, since all of the steps of "sciencing" are an integral part of the scientific process."

In conclusion, we question the use of the word "sciencing" to describe science. It seems to be a loosely defined term developed by social scientists and educators. 

Becky answered on September 25, 2006

The work of Rose Marie Rizzo Parse is neither wishy washy nor vague. The Science of Unitary Beings involves a philosophical perpective of sudying man as unitary beings, meaning that man can't be divided up into parts. This is a well established and respected school of thought in the discipline of nursing. I agree that this term should not be used to replace the term scientific inquiry. It should be used as defined by Parse, within the context of nursing science in her book, Qualitative inquiry: The path of sciencing.

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