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SCIENCE 1101: SCIENCE, SOCIETY and the ENVIRONMENT I Lecture 2 The world is understandable. Scientific ideas are subject to change. Scientific knowledge is durable. Scientists cannot answer ALL questions. Science does not make moral or ethical judgments 6. Scientists try to avoid bias.

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Slide2 l.jpg

  • The world is understandable.

  • Scientific ideas are subject to change.

  • Scientific knowledge is durable.

  • Scientists cannot answer ALL questions.

  • Science does not make moral or ethical judgments


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6. Scientists try to avoid bias.

7. Validation of science is important

8.Most of science deals with quantifiable (measurable) data

9. Science is different from Technology


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2. Scientific Ideas are subject to change:

  • Science produces knowledge. Knowledge is always subject to change.

  • New observations may challenge current knowledge. Therefore, scientific thought will change.

  • Testing, improving and discarding old hypotheses and theories occurs all the time in science


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2. Scientific Ideas are subject to change (cont.):

Examples:

  • Hypotheses about atomic structure have been changed and refined consistently over the last 100 years.

  • New observations in astronomy and physics have altered the way scientists view the origin and structure of the universe.


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2. Scientific Ideas are subject to change (cont.):

  • Because scientific thought is subject to change, science can NEVER prove anything with absolute certainty.

  • Scientists assume that even if absolute truth cannot be found, they can find increasingly accurate approximations of truth. Through science.


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2. Scientific Ideas are subject to change (cont.):

  • Science determines what is “most probable”, not absolute.

  • When referring to research, scientists avoid using words like, never, always, and only.


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2. Scientific Ideas are subject to change (cont.):

  • Interpretation of phenomenon may make lots of sense based on what we know today, but that interpretation may be incorrect.

  • New data could cause us to revise our interpretations.

  • The use of statistics and mathematics measure the reliability of a result.


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3. Scientific knowledge is durable:

  • Although science cannot attain absolute truth, and must accept uncertainty as part of nature, most scientific data is durable.

  • Modification of ideas occurs more often that complete rejection of those ideas.

  • Refinement of a theory is a strength, not a weakness.


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3. Scientific knowledge is durable (cont.):

Example:

  • Theory: All plants need sunlight to grow.

    • Evidence has shown that when sunlight is present plants grow better than when sunlight is not present.

    • Through biochemical tests and anatomical studies, scientists have determined that structures called “chloroplasts” are used to harvest the energy from the sun.


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Counter Evidence:

  • The spotted coral root, pinesap, and the Indian pipe orchids do not require sunlight.

  • Anatomical and genetic studies have shown that these organisms are plants.

  • These plants have no chloroplasts

  • These plants are completely parasitic on other plants


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3. Scientific knowledge is durable (cont.):

Example (continued)

  • Is the Theory proven to be completely wrong?

    • No

  • Although these plants do not follow the Theory, the Theory is altered:

  • New Theory: Most Plants require sunlight to live.


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    4. Scientists cannot answer all questions completely.

    • Scientists deal with ideas that potentially could be disproved by testing.

    • Since science is attempting to falsify questions or statements as they relate to nature, statements that cannot be tested are not scientific.


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    4. Scientists cannot answer all questions completely.

    Example: Which statement is potentially testable?

    • Atoms are the smallest particles of matter that exist.

    • Space is composed of an essence that cannot be detected.

    • Albert Einstein was the greatest physicist of the twentieth century.


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    5. Science does not make moral or ethical judgments:

    • Science presents data. Society is left to determine how to use the data.

    • Value judgments are left to other disciplines, however, science can identify possible consequences of an action.


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    5. Science does not make moral or ethical judgments:

    • Science can be a factor in helping to set public policies, but it is not the only one.

    • Social, economic, legal, political factors are also important for public policy.

    • Science helps to inform only…..

    • Decisions about how to use scientific knowledge rests with EVERYBOBY, not just scientists.


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    5. Science does not make moral or ethical judgments:

    • Everyone needs to be active in deciding how technological and scientific advances will be used.

      • e.g. Cloning, The use of Bioengineering, Irradiation of foods, Environmental Problems, etc.


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    6. Scientists try to avoid bias:

    • Bias: Making a decision that is affected by personal opinion, social expectations, or cultural norms.

    • Although it is the attempt of science and scientists to avoid bias, bias is inevitable.


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    6. Scientists try to avoid bias:

    1. Societal Bias: Societal pressures affect how science is conducted.

    2. How studies are conducted:

    • There was a time when most human health experiments were conducted on middle aged men. Even for breast cancer for which women are the major victims.


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    6. Scientists try to avoid bias:

    3. What research gets funded: Based on societal emphasis.

    4. Funding Pressures: The funding organization of a research project has a vested interest in certain results.

    • People with a vested interest in an outcome may have biased interpretations


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    6. Scientists try to avoid bias:

    • Although this does happen, having multiple research groups studying the same question helps to maintain honesty.

    • Honesty is very important in science. Without this, no data could be reliable.

    • Universities have more freedom for more objective studies. This is because they are usually not paid by someone to get the results they want to see.


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    6. Scientists try to avoid bias:

    • Scientists are not perfect. They are flawed individuals trying to conduct good research. Just as with everything, mistakes can be made.

    • All is not Bleak!!!! Science is a self correcting process because multiple studies on the same concepts are studied. Any study with fundamental flaws caused by bias will be rejected by the whole community.


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    6. Scientists try to avoid bias:

    • Scientists have to accept results that are counter to what they wanted.


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    7. Validation is important:

    • Because of the potential for bias, it is important that data is reproducible.

    • Scientists will check on the conclusions of other scientists by attempting to repeat the experiment.

    • Research must be documented for other researchers to follow.


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    7. Validation is important:

    • Studies are checked for errors such as inaccurate calculations, unexplained influences, or systematic biases.

    • All research that is published is reviewed consistently by a peer review process. Scientists that are experts in the field of your study check the paper for biases or erroneous information.


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    8. Science usually deals with quantifiable data:

    • Mathematics is important.

    • Statistics allow the researcher to make definitive statements about what their research suggests. It attempts to determine if the observed differences are SIGNIFICANT.


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    9. Science is different from Technology:

    • Science discovers information, answers questions about nature.

    • Technology applies results of science to specific commercial goals.

    • Science uses technology to help with measurement and observation.

    • Science advances technology.


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