What is Scientific Knowledge?

Meaning of Scientific Knowledge

Scientific knowledge is disciplined knowledge that is achieved through criteria such as observation, experimentation and criticism.

Therefore, science is a specialty of thought : it is only produced from the research carried out by trained scientists .

This kind of knowledge , at least in the traditional history of the West, emerged with thinkers like Galileo Galilei, Francis Bacon, and René Descartes. Thus, around the 15th century, what is known today as modern science began .

Characteristics of Scientific Knowledge

To better understand what scientific knowledge is, it is necessary to list some of its main characteristics.

From them, it is possible to understand why science is such a disciplined knowledge guided by some rules. See:

Systematic Observation

In common sense and other knowledge, knowledge is obtained by observing the world and everyday life. However, science aims to make this observation a regulated and systematic activity.

Therefore, scientific knowledge provides greater reliability for their statements.

For example, feeding a group of capuchin monkeys. It can be observed 4 hours a day, for 60 days.

With this, it will be possible to verify with sufficient confidence what the main diet of these animals is, that is, it will not be based on general impressions or only on intuition.

Controlled Experimentation

Whenever possible, science is produced from experiments . How it is done is possible to imagine a scientist interested in discovering the effects of a pesticide on a plant.

In this case, you will taste this toxic substance on the plant regularly and for some time.

In addition, the scientist must try to be as certain as possible that it was the pesticide, and not other factors, that caused an effect on the plant.

Therefore, it may be necessary to control the temperature and other aspects of the environment to find the real consequences of the substance.

Probability and Context

The world is complex and messy. In this context, science generally tries to give order to this ‘ disaster ‘ in order to better understand the world.

However, it is very difficult to reach an absolute truth , a word that, in fact, does not exist in scientific knowledge.

Therefore, scientific knowledge is always provisional: that is, it is true until proven otherwise or sufficient evidence is shown.

Therefore, the knowledge produced by science is always probabilistic and depends on the context in which the experiments and observations were carried out.


One of the important characteristics of science is the critical sense . After all, an investigation arises from a doubt: why does something happen this way and not another? Or: why when X happens, Y also changes?

Therefore, the ability to criticize and question is essential to produce scientific knowledge. Therefore, there is no room for dogmas or absolute truths within science.


From what has already been said, it is possible to notice that there are no final certainties in scientific knowledge. Therefore, from research and experimentation, scientists produce theories that interpret the world in a different way.

Consequently, when we speak of a scientific theory, it should not be considered synonymous with something without confidence.

For example, Darwinism or evolutionism is not “ just ” a theory; in fact, it is a theory precisely because it is the result of many studies and investigations.

Therefore, science specializes in producing a regulated and disciplined type of knowledge , and that is where its value lies, and not in saying supposed absolute truths.

Therefore, scientific knowledge also brings various benefits to society in general.

Importance of Scientific Knowledge

Science has brought many benefits and continues to offer to the entire society. Scientific knowledge is generally produced in universities and aims to enrich the human universe of thought and offer some guidelines for our problems.

Thus, while science is fueled by doubt and curiosity, it is also dependent on funding, bureaucratic processes, and even public opinion.

These are one of the biggest problems facing scientists today , especially when it comes to funding.

Scientific Knowledge and other Knowledge

Even to delve into what scientific knowledge is, it can be useful to think about the differences between this form of knowledge and others. Science is only one of the possible modes of human thought, it knows the others:

Philosophical Knowledge

Like science, philosophy is based on criticism and reflection . However, it does not aim at experimentation or systematic observation as a method, in the manner of scientific knowledge.

In other words, philosophy can reflect on important human issues such as morals and ethics, or even science, but it does not aim to produce scientific knowledge about them.


  • Epistemology;
  • Ethics;
  • Logic

religious knowledge

Religions are an important part of human cultures. In fact, they produce complex and plural knowledge about the world and how we should lead our lives.

However, many religions are based on dogmas or immutable truths. Therefore, this is one of the main characteristics that differentiate them from scientific knowledge, which does not seek to offer this type of certainty.


  • Christianity
  • Spiritism;
  • Islam

Common Sense Knowledge

Common sense is based on people’s daily experiences , which often produce knowledge that is passed from generation to generation. Therefore, it is as complex and rich as any kind of human knowledge.

Furthermore, science itself can start from problems of common sense to produce its knowledge. The difference between the two is the disciplined, experimental and regulated nature of scientific activity.


  • folk medicine;
  • Tales, fables and folklore;
  • Collective memories.

Therefore, it is not possible to place the different types of knowledge in a hierarchy. After all, each one is produced in its context and satisfies specific human needs.

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