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All science knowledge is, in principle, subject to change

Key ideas

  • Science knowledge relies on experimental and observational confirmation. Where data is incomplete, new or improved data may well lead to revision of accepted science explanations.
  • In situations where observations are fragmentary, it is normal for scientific ideas to be incomplete, but this is also where the opportunity for making advances may be the greatest.
  • The core ideas of science have been subjected to a wide variety of confirmations and are therefore unlikely to change in the areas in which they have been tested.


Science knowledge may change due to the development of new techniques for observing investigations (including new technologies), and also through new ways of thinking or framing the questions asked.

Teacher reflection

  • Should we be suspicious when science knowledge changes? Why or why not?
  • Why does science knowledge change?
  • How can science knowledge be wrong?
  • Can we ever rely on science knowledge, particularly on advances in science knowledge? Why or why not?
  • Can scientists reinterpret existing science knowledge based on new information? Why or why not?
  • Is all existing knowledge subject to change? Why or why not?
  • What effects might new technology have on science knowledge?
  • Why haven’t scientists got the answers right?