Really, whatever you think of science, hear me out a bit. It doesn't matter how you did in science in school or anything else. Everybody, even those who hate science for being the handiwork of the devil nonetheless do some now and then.
That's right, we all do science now and then, we are all, to some degree, scientists. How so?
Don your transparent lab coat and follow me over the bizarre mathematical plot.
Science is a set of rules, algorithms, methodologies and techniques that are all simply aids in learning from experience. We all do it, it's unavoidable. Research (I forget the source) has shown that kids tend to be natural born empiricists - we are born into science.
It is elementary my dear Watson
So that's it, learning from experience is science; even the flat earthers do it once in a while. But, that's the baseline, science is much, much more. For now, however, let us forget about double-blind studies, laboratories, statistics, reagents and all that and look to fundamentals. Science is inductive reasoning, but it is still dependent upon good old Sherlockian Observation and Deduction.
Collaboration in Science
More and more science is collaborative in action. The lone genius cranking through from initial hunch to final "proof" down in the basement is rare today. This is in part because as knowledge has grown, refining and expanding it leads to Big Science and Big Data. One of the forms collaboration takes is ...
Citizen science enlists the help of everyday people to help do the work. Computational projects using your computer's idle processor time abound, but this isn't about that. Sherlock, good as he was, couldn't deduce without some observations to deduce about. This is about data gathering, big data, it is hoped.
It is that time of year again - I just got my kit in the mail Friday. Cornell, Bird Studies Canada, eh, and others enlist the aid of the citizenry to provide information on bird population densities and activities right in their own backyards which professional ornithologists and others can then study. You just note the number of birds of each species present at your feeders on days of your choosing and then input the data on online forms (or use paper ones and mail them in). There are online bird guides, good ones, so you don't even need your own field guides, just a feeder and a little time.
For starts, you have to enroll at Link by clicking the box above the picture of the Nuthatch. This will also cost you something like $15 or 17, but
BARGAIN CITY it is really something of a twofer. You add a column to your data gathering sheet for birds seen but not coming to your feeders, and submit both your feederwatch data and this added information to e-bird, another study and database, which is free. My shockingly brilliant first diary just happened to be on e-bird and may be found Here.
Because it starts November 10, 2012. It runs through April, and you can start late, just as you can skip any days you please, but you might as well just go to the project overview and homepage here right now and get started. It is good for science, the environment, your birding skills and your nervous system. It is vastly entertaining and stress relieving, improves your health and prolongs your life.Go on - do it, it's good for you.
No, you don't have to be able to identify a single bird
Really. They send a nice calendar with a few common feeder birds identified on it and online guides are plentiful. You can also go to the bird heads here to get starting points for using the guides, either Birds and Birdwatching or Backyard Science, you know how , "bigger than a robin and smaller than a vulture hanging on he side of a tree with a big red topknot is what?" will get you suggested answers that you can look up to check against what you saw.