I cannot tell you how much it irritates me every time I see those words in print. The only thing that gets me consistently more agitated is data “science” the non science science. Thanks for writing this and you made some excellent points. I have two more words that need to go into the never use pile for all writers, ‘scientific reasons.’ As in:
The 4 Scientific Reasons Your Last Relationship Failed
10 Scientific Reasons Drinking Coffee Makes You More Awesome
20 Scientific Reasons to Start Meditating Today: New research shows meditation boosts your health, happiness, and success!
Etc., etc., etc.
I have not seen ‘scientific reasons’ abused as badly by journalists as ‘according to science’ but it is abused by writers on Medium and other web-sites hundreds of times a day. These articles are almost always in listicle format and contain a number between 4 and 20. I wonder if there are scientific reasons for that. What exactly is a scientific reason? Certainly we are familiar with the non-scientific variety. Some examples include ‘just because’, ‘because God made it that way’, ‘because I felt like it’, and the meta non-scientific reason ‘for no reason.’ If we should consider a scientific reason the opposite of a non-scientific reason I guess we would say it is a reason with a basis in fact. Or what I like to call an actual reason or a justified reason. While science does have a basis in fact and uses reasoning and justified reasons to progress there is no science of reasons. There are real, actual reason that are based in fact and justified, and there are the other kind. Science has a great preference for the first kind but one does need science to give a justified actual reason for something, one only needs to understand the difference between what is fact and what is fiction. I think most people, even non scientists, are still capable of that. We have slid far as a society when we need to ‘remind’ people that something is actually real and based in fact by attaching the word ‘science’ to it.
Some will no doubt argue that when they say scientific reasons they mean reasons supported by scientific research. Fine, then how about just saying that. Let’s try it out; 4 Reasons Supported by Scientific Research Your Last Relationship Failed. Hmmm. That doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue does it? How about; 4 Reasons Your Last Relationship Failed Supported by Scientific Research? Yikes, that sucks too. Oooh, I got it; 4 Reason Your Last Relationship Failed, According to Science. Oh, wait a minute, that can’t be right…..Damn, this is hard, fine, I take it all back, scientific reasons is a perfectly fine thing to say. That gives me an idea for a story. 8 Reasons Scientific Reasons is a Perfectly Reasonable Thing To Say, According to Science. Now that is gonna be click bait for sure.