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The natural sciences

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  • 1. The Natural SciencesIntroduction 17th century: Galileo Gaillei, Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle fundamental laws of physics, 92 elements periodic table, DNA the dominant cognitive paradigm = model of knowledge science is the only road to knowledge o if you cannot prove something scientifically then you don’t really know it at all limitation: certainty [ history and belief change over time] science is “out of control”, scientist are “playing gold” o nuclear war or harmful effect of cloningScientific method method distinguishes science from non-science Inductivism: traditional picture of scientific method o Observation o hypothesis o Experiment o Law o Theory observing and classifying relevant data → pattern in the data → formulate a hypothesis → make prediction → test by experiment Good experiment o Controllability  one factor at a time → can determine its effect o Measurability  relevant variables → add precision o Repeatability  can be repeat by other people → confirm your result o result confirm hypothesis → scientific lawProblem with Observation Relevance o began with idea of what relevant → prevent from flood of observation o selective nature of perception → overlooked a factor that later turns out to be relevant Expectation o Our expectation can influence what we see  ex: astronomer - undiscovered Vulcan → other astronomer claim to see them → truth: Vulcan does not exist  Theory of relativist Expert Seeing o Scientific equiment: [microscopes and telescopes]  make obsevation further complicats things The observer effect o act of observation can sometimes affect what we observe
  • 2. Testing Hypotheses Confirmation bias o people tends to look for evidence that confirms their beliefs and overlook evidence that goes against them o need to look for evidcne that might falsity it o good scientist wil be aware of the danger of cnofirmation bias and seek to combat it o Charles Darwin (1809 -82)“I followed a golden rules, namely that whenever a new observation or thouht come across me, which was opposed to my general results, I make a memorandum of it without fail and at once; for I had found by experienece that much facts and thoughts were far more apt to escape from the memory than favourable ones” o Dismiss results they don’t expect as “experimental error” o want to show their result in their best possible light → o strong expectation about the way an experiment should turn outScience and Society Thomas Kuhn (1922 - 96) - paradigm o make sense of some aspect of reality Normal science o the vast majority of scientist are busy solving problems within a paradigm while taking the paradigm itself for granted o ex;love the problem within the framework of Newtonian mechanics isntead of questioning newtonian machanics o goign to get anyhting done, you cannot endlesslyh question your assumption Scientific Revolutions o scientists become dissatisfied with the prevailing paradigm, and put forward a completely new way of looking at things o idea triumph → new paradigm replace the old one ---<> inaugurate another period of normal science o ex: shift from geocentric to heliocentric model of universeHow rational is science? progress of science is not rational → theory can never be conclusivelt verified or falsified factor: personal amibition and social pressure Charles Nicolle (1866 - 1936) o priority disputes: without ambition and without vanity no one would enter a profession so contrary to our natural appetites o priority disputes: dispute about who was the firs to discover a particular law or come up with a particulr theory o concerned with their social status and public recognition o social context: military’s desire for power and big business’s desire for profitAssessment of Kuhn’s position
  • 3. normal science: do not question the paradigm in which theyare operating and focus instead of solving problems sciecne goes through a series of revolutionary jumps no purely rational ways of deciding between rival paradigmsThe Human Sciences Introduction o studying human behaviour in systematic way o psychology, economics, anthropology and sociology o theory of evolution: descended from the apes [99% genes] o same basic ingerdient - 63% hydrogen, 25.5 oxygen, 9.5 carbon etc. o human = self-conscious animals [mirror test] o language, reason, free-will and creativity Observation o problem: cannot directly observe their mind o method: questionnaires, opinion polls and interviews o we overestimate our strengths and underestimate our weaknesses Loaded questions o hidden assumption → encourage peopel to answer one way rather than another The observer effect o become nervous ro embarrassed by hsi attention → change their behaviour o habituation: be there for a long time, get used to the presense and ignore them o hidden cameras: don’t know you are beign observed o awy in which a prediction can affect what is predictedLaws Human free will - conflict → law like regularities in human behaviour behaviour of inconsistent, wilful and unpredictable human being Newton’s : “I can calculate the motions of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of crowds generalisation about human beingThe law of large numbers prediction : number of births, marriages and deahts in the coutnry large popular random variation tend to cancle out predict large group rather than individual behaviourTrends and laws . prediciton fo human scientist turn out to be wrong human scientist simply uncovered treands rather than genuine laws trend shows irection in which a variable is moving, no explanation for movement Philips curve in economic: two things are correlated does not follow that the frist is the cause of the second o fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hocThe complexity of real world sitations
  • 4. untangle a complicated web of causal relationship to determind which one is decisiveSummary law of large number o based on treands reather than law → consufse a correlation with causal conenction o complexity of real world situation, difficult to unearth simple laws of “if, then”Bias & prediction begin with prejudcies about the nature of individuals and society difficult to be open minded about controversial topic look for evidcne that confrim pre-existing prejudce emotional attrachment--> over identifyPredictions deal with extremely complex sitaution → not possible to run controlled experiments prediciton made by social scientist are valuable → give us an incentive to change purpose of human scinece = describe and understand