science 110 introduction to scientific thought spring 2012 l.
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My heart leaps up when I beholdA Rainbow in the sky:So was it when my life began;So is it now I am a man;So be it when I shall grow old,Or let me die!The Child is father of the man;And I could wish my days to beBound each to each by natural pietyby William Wordsworth


Flower in the crannied wall,I pluck you out the crannies,I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,Little flower – but ‘if’ I could understandWhat you are, root and all, and all in all,I should know what God and man is.Alfred, Lord Tennyson

introduction to scientific thought5
Introduction to Scientific Thought
  • The Scientific Method
  • Discuss Syllabus
  • Course Project-Original Scientific Experiment
  • Teams
  • Email Addresses
  • Test Your Scientific Literacy
  • The Shroud of Turin
  • Nature of Evidence and Good Science

COURSE OBJECTIVES:1. Acquiring critical thinking skills.Critical thinking is deciding rationally what to or what not to believe2. Comprehending how scientists discover basic laws of nature.3. Obtaining knowledge of the history and philosophy of science.The Philosophy of Science is concerned with science - specifically, how science operates, what the goals of science should be, what relationship science should have with the rest of society, the differences between science and other activities, etc. Everything that happens in science has some relationship with the Philosophy of Science.4. Gaining ability to distinguish real science from pseudo-sciences.Pseudoscience begins with a hypothesis then looks only for items which appear to support it. Generally speaking, the aim of pseudoscience is to rationalize strongly held beliefs, rather than to investigate or to test alternative possibilities. Pseudoscience specializes in jumping to "congenial conclusions," grinding ideological axes, appealing to preconceived ideas and to widespread misunderstandings.5. Adding skepticism to your intellectual kit.6. Increasing social/ethical awareness about issues raised by science.

the scientific method

The Scientific Method

Science employs the scientific method. No, there's no such method: Doing science is not like baking a cake. Science can be proved on the basis of observable data. No, general theories about the natural world can't be proved at all. Our theories make claims that go beyond the finite amount of data that we've collected. There's no way such extrapolations from the evidence can be proved to be correct. Science can be disproved, or falsified, on the basis of observable data. No, for it's always possible to protect a theory from an apparently confuting observation. Theories are never tested in isolation but only in conjunction with many other extra-theoretical assumptions (about the equipment being used, about ambient conditions, about experimenter error, etc.). It's always possible to lay the blame for the confutation at the door of one of these assumptions, thereby leaving one's theory in the clear. And so forth.

course topics


The nature of Evidence. What is the relationship between observation and hypothesis? History of Science

What is science? Is there such a thing as science?

The Art of Observation – Optical Illusions, Modern Art and Gestalt Formation Philosophical foundations of science Good Science, Bad Science and Pseudo-Science Great Ideas in Science Alternative medicine, medical quackery, and hoaxes Scientific literacy The Precautionary Principle Religion and Science Ethics and science- Tolerance and intolerance Observation – art and illusions Technology - applied scienceLimitation of Science

required text 1 intro to scientific thought john oakes 2 theory and reality peter godfrey smith
Required Text1. Intro to Scientific Thought John Oakes2. Theory and Reality Peter Godfrey-Smith

Test YourScientific Literacy1. Scientists usually expect an experiment to turn out a certain way.2. Science only produces tentative conclusions that can change.3. Science has one uniform way of conducting research called “the scientific method.”4. Scientific theories are explanations and not facts.5. When being scientific one must have faith only in what is justified by empirical evidence.6. Science is just about the facts, not human interpretations of them.7. To be scientific one must conduct experiments.8. Scientific theories only change when new information becomes available.9. Scientists manipulate their experiments to produce particular results.10. Science proves facts true in a way that is definitive and final.11. An experiment can prove a theory true.12. Science is partly based on beliefs, assumptions, and the non-observable.13. Imagination and creativity are used in all stages of scientific investigations.14. Scientific theories are just ideas about how something works.15. A scientific law is a theory that has been extensively and thoroughly confirmed.16. Scientists’ education, background, opinions, disciplinary focus, and basic guiding assumptions and philosophies influence their perception and interpretation of the available data.17. A scientific law will not change because it has been proven true.18. A scientific law describes relationships among observable phenomena but does not explain them.19. Scientists invent explanations, models or theoretical entities.20. Scientists construct theories to guide further research.21. Scientists accept the existence of theoretical entities that have never been directly observed.22. Scientific laws are absolute or certain.

researcher ties a society s traits to cat parasite infection rates
Researcher ties a society's traits to cat parasite infection rates
  • By Mike Taugher
  • Union Tribune
  • August 17, 2006

A new study suggests a parasite found in cats may affect human behavior and, ultimately, the psychological makeup of human socieies. A common cat parasite that infects humans may be linked to male dominance and the makeup of cultures, a researcher's study suggests.

  • Societies with a high rate of infection tend to be more “neurotic,” with more rigid structures and greater division of gender roles, according to the study.
  • The provocative study, published in the respected Proceedings of the Royal Society, Biology, compared infection rates of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii in various countries with sociological descriptions of those countries. It revealed a relationship between the frequency of the parasite and some cultural traits.
how do zippers work
How Do Zippers Work?
  • The zipper is one of the simplest machines of modern times and arguably one of the least essential, but it is an immeasurably useful device in our everyday lives. Think how much easier it is to close a pants fly, a suitcase, the back of a dress, a sleeping bag or a tent flap with a zipper than with buttons or cords. The zipper is so effective and reliable that in less than a hundred years, it has become the de facto fastener for thousands of different products.

Shroud of Turin an Illustrates of the Conflict Between Belief and SkepticismThe Shroud of Turin is a centuries old linen cloth that bears the image of a crucified man. A man that millions believe to be Jesus of Nazareth. Is it really the cloth that wrapped his crucified body, or is it simply a medieval forgery, a hoax perpetrated by some clever artist? Modern science has completed hundreds of thousands of hours of detailed study and intense research on the Shroud. It is, in fact, the single most studied artifact in human history, and we know more about it today than we ever have before. And yet, the controversy still rages.

shroud of turin an illustrates of the conflict between belief and skepticism
Shroud of Turin an Illustrates of the Conflict Between Belief and Skepticism
  • The Shroud of Turin is a centuries old linen cloth that bears the image of a crucified man. A man that millions believe to be Jesus of Nazareth. Is it really the cloth that wrapped his crucified body, or is it simply a medieval forgery, a hoax perpetrated by some clever artist? Modern science has completed hundreds of thousands of hours of detailed study and intense research on the Shroud. It is, in fact, the single most studied artifact in human history, and we know more about it today than we ever have before. And yet, the controversy still rages.
carbon 14 in living things
Carbon-14 in Living Things
  • The carbon-14 atoms that cosmic rays create combine with oxygen to form carbon dioxide, which plants absorb naturally and incorporate into plant fibers by photosynthesis. Animals and people eat plants and take in carbon-14 as well. The ratio of normal carbon (carbon-12) to carbon-14 in the air and in all living things at any given time is nearly constant. Maybe one in a trillion carbon atoms are carbon-14. The carbon-14 atoms are always decaying, but they are being replaced by new carbon-14 atoms at a constant rate. At this moment, your body has a certain percentage of carbon-14 atoms in it, and all living plants and animals have the same percentage.
turin shroud confirmed as a fake
Turin Shroud confirmed as a fake

"A medieval technique helped us to make a Shroud," Science & Vie (Science and Life) said in its July issue. The Shroud is claimed by its defenders to be the cloth in which the body of

  • Jesus Christ was wrapped after his crucifixion.
  • It bears the faint image of a blood-covered man with holes in his hand and wounds in his body and head, the apparent result of being crucified, stabbed by a Roman spear and forced to wear a crown of thorns.
  • In 1988, scientists carried out carbon-14 dating of the delicate linen cloth and concluded that the material was made some time between 1260 and 1390. Their study prompted the then archbishop of Turin, where the Shroud is stored, to admit that the garment was a hoax. But the debate sharply revived in January this year.
  • Drawing on a method previously used by skeptics to attack authenticity claims about the Shroud, Science & Vie got an artist to do a bas-relief -- a sculpture that stands out from the surrounding background -- of a Christ-like face.
turin shroud confirmed as a fake27
Turin Shroud confirmed as a fake
  • A scientist then laid out a damp linen sheet over the bas-relief and let it dry, so that the thin cloth was moulded onto the face. Using cotton wool, he then carefully dabbed ferric oxide, mixed with gelatine, onto the cloth to make blood-like marks. When the cloth was turned inside-out, the reversed marks resulted in the famous image of the crucified Christ.
  • Gelatine, an animal by-product rich in collagen, was frequently used by Middle Age painters as a fixative to bind pigments to canvas or wood.
  • The imprinted image turned out to be wash-resistant, impervious to temperatures of 250 C (482 F) and was undamaged by exposure to a range of harsh chemicals, including bisulphite which, without the help of the gelatine, would normally have degraded ferric oxide to the compound ferrous oxide.
  • The experiments, said Science & Vie, answer several claims made by the pro-Shroud camp, which says the marks could not have been painted onto the cloth.
  • For one thing, the Shroud's defenders argue, photographic negatives and scanners show that the image could only have derived from a three-dimensional object, given the width of the face, the prominent cheekbones and nose.
turin shroud confirmed as a fake28
Turin Shroud confirmed as a fake
  • In addition, they say, there are no signs of any brushmarks. And, they argue, no pigments could have endured centuries of exposure to heat, light and smoke.
  • For Jacques di Costanzo, of Marseille University Hospital, southern France, who carried out the experiments, the mediaeval forger must have also used a bas-relief, a sculpture or cadaver to get the 3-D imprint.
  • The faker used a cloth rather than a brush to make the marks, and used gelatine to keep the rusty blood-like images permanently fixed and bright for selling in the booming market for religious relics.
  • To test his hypothesis, di Costanzo used ferric oxide, but no gelatine, to make other imprints, but the marks all disappeared when the cloth was washed or exposed to the test chemicals.
  • He also daubed the bas-relief with an ammoniac compound designed to represent human sweat and also with cream of aloe, a plant that was used as an embalming aid by Jews at the time of Christ.
turin shroud confirmed as a fake29
Turin Shroud confirmed as a fake
  • He then placed the cloth over it for 36 hours -- the approximate time that Christ was buried before rising again -- but this time, there was not a single mark on it.
  • "It's obviously easier to make a fake shroud than a real one," Science & Vie report dryly.
  • The first documented evidence of the Shroud dates back to 1357, when it surfaced at a church at Lirey, near the eastern French town of Troyes. In 1390, Pope Clement VII declared that it was not the true shroud but could be used as a representation of it, provided the faithful be told that it was not genuine.
turin shroud older than thought

Turin shroud 'older than thought'

Tests in 1988 concluded the cloth was a medieval "hoax”

The Shroud of Turin is much older than suggested by radiocarbon dating carried out in the 1980s, according to a new study in a peer-reviewed journal. A research paper published in Thermochimica Acta suggests the shroud is between 1,300 and 3,000 years old.The author dismisses 1988 carbon-14 dating tests which concluded that the linen sheet was a medieval fake.

The controversy over the Shroud of Turin Illustrates several issues in the nature of Science and Pseudoscience
  • What is evidence?
  • What is the relationship between evidence and hypothesis?
  • How does one verify a hypothesis?
  • Does inductive verification work?
  • How does one know anything?
proper science
Proper Science
  • Consistent
  • Parsimonious
  • Retrogressive
  • Progressive
  • Testability
  • Avoidance of supernal explanations
  • Tentative
  • Changeable
  • Falsifiable
marks of pseudoscience
  • 1. A lack of well-controlled, reproducible experimental support. (by
  • definition)
  • 2. Over reliance on anecdotal evidence.
  • 3. Play on supposed inconsistencies in science.
  • 4. Attempt to explain the (so far) unexplainable. Appeal to mysteries &
  • myths.
  • 5. Argument by analogy. Argument by spurious similarity.
  • 6. Abuse of well-known scientists by;
  • a. inferring they would agree with them.
  • b. quoting them out of context.
  • 7. Over reliance on surveys and statistical arguments
  • 8. Filtering data. The “grab-bag” approach to data.
  • 9. Use of anachronistic arguments. Arguing against long-dead theories.
  • 10. Use of irrefutable hypothesis.
  • 11. Refusal to revise in spite of being proven wrong.
  • Does data supports the age of the shroud at 2000 years old.
  • Is there a scientific method? Discuss
  • Is Sam Harris right that we should do away with religion?