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Scientific thinking


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  • 1. Scientific thinking Prof. Vajira Weerasinghe Professor of Physiology Department of Physiology Faculty of Medicine University of Peradeniya
  • 2. Objectives
    • Define “science”
    • State the main goal of science
    • Differentiate “science” from “technology”
    • Define “scientific method”
    • Describe the steps in scientific method
  • 3. What is science ?
    • Is derived from the Latin word scientia for knowledge
    • The state of knowing
    • Knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding
    • The systematic study of the natural world
    • Systematically acquired knowledge that is verifiable
    • The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena
    • It is a method used by humans to try to make sense of the world (and universe) in which they live
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  • 5. Main goal of science
    • The main goal of science is to acquire knowledge about the world
    • To explain the natural world as we observe it as much as possible and to search for ways of applying such knowledge for the benefit of humanity
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  • 7. Different branches of science
      • The seeking of information for its own sake
      • The pursuit of knowledge for the sake of knowledge
      • The seeking of information that is of immediate use and benefit
  • 8. Related terms
    • Technology
      • originates from the Greek word tekhnologia and the Latin word technologia which means an approach to doing something systematically
      • It is the usage and knowledge of tools, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization
    • Philosophy
      • is a branch of knowledge that study general problems pertaining to existence, knowledge, justice, truth, beauty, law, validity, mind and language
  • 9. Technology
    • Compared to “science”, the term , “technology” is still new as it is only used since the 18 th century
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  • 13. Scientific medicine
    • Medicine is the science and art of healing humans
    • Medical science or scientific basis of medicine
    • Medical technology
  • 14. What is scientific method ?
    • Refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge
    • To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable , empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning
    • A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation , and the formulation and testing of hypotheses
    • These steps must be repeatable, to predict future results
    • Scientific inquiry is generally intended to be as objective as possible, to reduce biased interpretations of results
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  • 16. Related terms
    • Empirical
      • information gained by means of observation, experience, or experiment
      • In the scientific method all evidence must be empirical, or empirically based, that is, dependent on evidence or consequences that are observable by the senses
      • Empirical data is data that is produced by an experiment or observation
    • Hypothesis
      • A suggested explanation for an observable phenomenon, or a reasoned proposal predicting a causal correlation among multiple phenomena
  • 17. Inductive vs Deductive logic
    • INDUCTIVE REASONING: From a specific case to the general principle
      • Sparrows are birds
      • They have wings and can fly
      • Robins, flamingos, owls, and eagles are birds, have wings and can fly
      • From this you might induct that "ALL BIRDS CAN FLY."
    • DEDUCTIVE REASONING: From the general case to the specific
      • All birds have feathered wings
      • We know that sparrows have feathered wings
      • Therefore, we can deduce that "Sparrows are birds.“
  • 18. Inductive vs Deductive logic
    • The problem with this is the "inductive leap“
    • When you make the jump from many observations to saying that your observation is true in all cases, you are making a generalization that might not be correct every time
    • Although generalizations can be useful, the wise scientist is always aware that there may be EXCEPTIONS to the general rule
    • and to the possibility that the "general rule“ might eventually be found to be wrong
  • 19. Inductive vs Deductive logic
    • Let's take an example
    • You suddenly come upon an ostrich It has wings, and all the other characteristics you'd ascribe to a bird--BUT IT CANNOT FLY!
    • Or a bat, it can fly, has wings BUT NOT A BIRD
    • Does this mean that your general rule is always wrong? No
    • But it does mean that there are exceptions, and you must be ready to find them!
    • The human mind is creative in its inductive reasoning, but it is not omniscient (all-knowing) or infallible!
    • This is why scientists use deductive reasoning in their scientific endeavors. Such reasoning is less susceptible to this type of error
  • 20. Logic premise, inference and conclusion
    • All insects have wings (premise) Woodlice are insects (premise) Therefore woodlice have wings (conclusion)
    • All fish live in the sea (premise) Dolphins are fish (premise) Therefore dolphins live in the sea (conclusion)
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  • 23. All basketballs are round. The Earth is round. Therefore, the Earth is a basketball.
  • 24. Hypothetic-deductive method
    • The formulation of an hypothesis (a tentative answer to a question) and the execution of experiments from which one may deduce a general answer to the hypothesis
  • 25. Steps in scientific method
    • Observation
    • Asking a critical question
    • Developing a hypothesis
    • Making a prediction that can be tested
    • Performing experiments to test the prediction
    • Collecting and analyzing data
    • Making a logical conclusion based on experimental results
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  • 27. Scientific method
    • Observing and stating a research problem
    • Forming a hypothesis: gather information about the observed phenomenon and make a hypothesis
    • Testing the hypothesis
    • Experimentation
      • Variable
      • Outcome
      • Control experiment
      • Recording and analysing results
      • Forming a conclusion
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  • 32. No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong. Albert Einstein