How Do Scientists Think? by @johnkaiser13

How do scientists think?  I would suggest that scientists think more like you do than you might think.  Why?  Over the years of being a scientist — after the formal educational process — a comment that I frequently hear is that of the following:

Scientists (you) think differently….your brain is wired differently.

Really? I would greatly disagree with that statement.  Scientists are curious people.  Kids are curious people.  Each of us were at one time point in history — Kids.  Therefore, each of us at one time point where scientists.  Other professional scientists may disagree and say that there is a large difference.  Although, the underlying curiosity is the same along with the follow through of carrying out an experiment.  After an experiment is carried out, what is done with the results is the main differentiation.  Professional scientists will publish the results in their respective journals which serve as avenues to report their experimental findings (experimental results).   This begs the following question:

At what point does a child growing up curious (like scientists) reduce his/her curiosity to carry out experiments?

The answer to this question is the reason why all of the inhabitants (citizens) of the planet are not professional scientists.  Where did our thirst for curiosity disappear to?

Of course, I have always held the opinion that we are all still scientists in our own unique manner.  In light of that, I have chosen to write about how I think on this blog post.  There are two main types of blog posts on this site to ‘demystify the life of a scientist’.  The first deals with large numbers or various statistics reported in the popular news with no real context provided.  Take for example the oil spill in China shown below:


Source: The Guardian

At first sight, the picture appears to portray an extremely large oil spill.  The article which is discussed on a previous blog only serves to give us a total amount of oil spilt.  After which, I used dimensional analysis to compare the statistic of 136,000 metric tons of oil spilt (in the picture above) to past oil spills.  The results of the analysis indicated that the spill was small compared to previous spills.

A reader might not be able to infer that result just from reading the amount of oil spilt in ‘units of metric tons’ instead of ‘gallons’.  This example (blog post) serves to justify learning the how to carry out the method of ‘dimensional analysis’ to compare numbers or at least cast them into context in order to get a better understanding of the reported statistic.

If you are interested in learning more about ‘dimensional analysis,’ then click here to read a recent post.  For a list of all of the blog posts written on this blog site that contains dimensional analysis, click here.

What about other relevant questions regarding the oil spill shown above?

Of course, the question of the magnitude of the oil spill might not have been your (the reader’s) first concern or query.  Other questions regarding enormous amounts of oil spilled are:

  1. What type of oil was spilt?
  2. How harmful was the oil spill to the environment?
  3. How long does a large spill take to clean up?
  4. How difficult is the cleanup process?
  5. What does the cleanup process entail for such a spill?
  6. How do authorities measure the total volume of the oil spill?
  7. Why should I care about the oil spill?

If any of these questions might cross your mind after looking at the picture above, then the subject matter of ‘science and the environment’ — of which a portion of the blog posts appear on this site might interest you.  Click here to access blog posts dealing with the questions above!


Are you convinced that we think alike?  That you really do think like a scientist?  If you are still not convinced that you are a scientist at heart, then click on either hyperlink below.  The first hyperlink is a list of blog posts which deal with statistics which are reported in the popular news.  Whereas the second hyperlink is a list of past blog posts which are concerned with the topics which occupy my mind and that of other scientists.  A look into my mind.  What am I concerned with or think about when reading any article?  Read and compare your thoughts.  You might find that you think more like a scientist than you previously thought.  Regardless, enjoy the reading and stay hungry to educate yourself by satisfying your undying curiosity.  Education is a life long process.

Index of past blog sites:

1) Dimensional Analysis Of Statistics And Large Numbers – Index Of Blog Posts

2) Science Topics, Thoughts, and Parameters Regarding Science, Politics, And The Environment!

This article was originally posted at

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About 12 Articles
Hello Everyone, My name is Mike and I am an instrument manager in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at California State University at Northridge (USA). I am interested in the dissemination of science knowledge to the public at large. Part of the motivation behind blogging is to demystify the life of a scientist to the public. This includes how scientists view various statistics and facts that are presented in the popular news. Furthermore, to verify the statistics and facts through approximations using publicly available resources on the internet. I believe that elevating the scientific knowledge of the public will result in a more environmentally friendly (sustainable) citizenship on the planet and better science policy on a local governmental level. A more informed public is a healthier public. My twitter handle is @johnkaiser13. I write at the blog site: Please feel free to comment and share concerns and thoughts on future blog topics. I look forward to sharing my blogs with you in the future. Have a great day! Sincerely, J. Mike Kaiser

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