If I've gained anything from being a student of science then it is the realisation of the sheer power of the use of the scientific method.
I have used the scientific method every day in my research work, where, of course, not using the method is like being a scholar of Greek literature who does not use Greek alphabets. And yet I've felt the real power of the use of this method outside the chemistry laboratory.
The scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, and/or correcting and integrating previous knowledge.To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.
In the past few years, I've treated (knowingly or unknowingly) everything that I do as an experiment. Every action has consequences and from these consequences one gains new knowledge. If one cares enough then one may also be able to 'measure' many of the resulting outcomes from an action and use the results to further one's goals.
Despite what everyone believes, I find it hard to use the knowledge that I gained in the lab only in the lab. Actually my pleasure knows no bound when I am able to apply lessons from one area of work in totally unrelated areas. I may not be able to prove to you that I have used the scientific method in 'everything' that I've done but I have enough proof to show that I've used it to do many things.
Not least the scientific method has come to the rescue and helped me improve the way I perceived things around me. Its not surprising that I am now an atheist and not a fence-sitter that I had been all my life previously.
The practice of science has also made me bolder
In the lab, we have to analyse the risk of every experiment that we have decided to do before actually doing it. We fill out COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) phrases for each of the chemical used in the reaction before setting up the reaction. COSHH phrases are simple phrases that explain the risk associated with the chemical and the safety protocol that should be followed to safeguard from the risks involved.
When you do this day in and day out at work, I won't be able to believe any scientist who says that they have never (consciously or unconsciously) applied the same principle to things they do outside the lab. I won't be able to believe them because it's a dead simple protocol to follow which can save you a lot of trouble and not using it might actually be a foolhardy thing to do.
Now, you will think that if I start analysing the risk of doing everything I do then that will make me less likely do many things. Actually, it's quite the opposite. The practice of science and proper risk analysis has made me bolder. That's because it turns out that the risk of doing most things is far too less than we anticipate. And we do anticipate the risk of doing anything, mostly unconsciously.
Before I do something I analyse the risk of doing something and if it seems reasonable then I do it. This allows me to learn a lot more and experience a lot more. The act of consciously analysing the risk gives you a truer estimate of the risk involved which is usually lower than the risk our unconscious mind estimates. I suppose that the unconscious mind is biased to give us a higher estimate because evolutionarily that might have helped human beings survive in the hostile environments that they lived in.
Of course, these are not the only things that I've learnt from science. I've just begun the list.