SOCIOLOGY AS A SCIENCE
A science may be defined in at least two ways: ‘(l)science. is a body of organized, verified knowledge which has been secured through scientific investigation (Z) a science is a method of study whereby a body of organized, verified knowledge is discovered. These are, of course, two ways of saying much the same If the first definition is accepted, then sociology is a science to tire extent that it develops a body of organized, verified knowledge which is based on scientific investigation. To the extent that sociology forsakes myth, folklore, and wishful thinking and bases its conclusions on scientific evidence, it is a science. If science > is defined as a method of study, then sociology is a science to the extent tllllt it uses scientific methods of study. All natural phenomena can be studied scientifically, if one ,is willing to use scientific methods. Any ‘kind of behavior-whether of atoms, animals, or adolescents-is a proper field for scientific study.
During human history, few of our act have been based on verified knowledge, for people through the ages have been guided mainly by folklore, habit, and guesswork. Until a few centuries ago, very few people accepted the idea that we should find out about the natural world by systematic observation of the natural world itself, rather than by consulting oracles, ancestors, or intuition. This new idea created the modern world. A few decades ago we began acting on the assumption that this same approach might also give useful knowledge about human social life. Just how far we have replaced folklore with knowledge in this area will be explored in the chapters which follow.