Well, the very power of the scientific method *is* that they can “change their mind tomorrow” so to speak.
Facts-as-facts are necessary in school but beyond school, less so.
Within the disciplines of the sciences, the variability in research findings is a bonus. I love Google Scholar and live in it sometimes. I’m not looking for hard facts because I don’t have to: I have no tests to pass and no newspaper headlines to write. But what I’m looking for is a broad comprehension of the strengths and limitations of each field, of each study, and somewhere within the mix, come up with some plausible reasoning to support whatever is necessary for me at the time, but all the while knowing (gratefully so!) that the concept I’m leaning on could vanish tomorrow, which keeps me nimble and alert and looking for the deeper strengths within each, rather than following the latest finding.
“New study shows….[insert something that overturns ‘everything we knew before] has to be taken with great skepticism.
The power is that both efforts take place simultaneously.
You may be seeing an either/or situation. I’m speaking “both/and”.
The various disciplines of the sciences (there are many disciplines, many sciences) are each viewing the world from their own point of view.
Biology sees what it sees and interprets through its lens.
Physics sees what it sees and interprets through its lens.
Psychology sees what it sees and interprets through its lens.
Yet, none of them have a singular lens in their own disciplines.
There are different opinions that vary TREMENDOUSLY within each discipline.
I’m friends with several theoretical physicists, as well as a few going to school for it. They can fight like cats and dogs over some things.
Within psychology there’s just as much variety.
Pick a discipline with a theoretical component to it, and you’ll find heated debates about nearly everything.
One exception MIGHT be chemistry, although there _is_ a limited theoretical chemistry field out there, but it doesn’t have a strong voice because chemistry-as-is is extremely reliable and powerful as it stands.
Now, what’s a general consensus among scientists within a discipline?
Which scientists? Which studies? Who is using the studies and for what purpose? These are all important and the facts necessary to use can change with the needs of the user.
This doesn’t invalidate any of it.
But, outside of chemistry, I can’t think of any field that isn’t bustling with opinion, debate, argument in some fashion.
Yet at the same time, some things appear to be sturdy and reliable. Those are facts. They’re practical. Science is a pragmatic field. Use what works.
Maybe next year something will work better. Today’s “This is the answer to why?” might not be as effective as the answer in 10 years, 100 years.
General consensus is more of a wibbly wobbly thing. That’s what makes it powerful. Science can change. Yet when you find a general consensus of sorts that’s strong enough to support what you need it for at the time, the chain of evidence is usually strong enough to be pragmatic for its purposes.
Science isn’t scripture nor is it law. It’s its own thing.
Science is mitigated certainties. It works. It is akin to a rope bridge. Do you trust enough to cross? You apply what you know using the methodology of proof that seems to work well and you cross.
Can I build a skyscraper on it? Probably not. But it is strong enough to cross, good for its purposes.
I apply the scientific method to nearly everything yet not exclusively so either. It’s more akin to the engineering method [I have a chart somewhere that shows the differences between them].
The methodology you’re learning is sound. My point is: it’s not a weapon.