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Outline Go over the reading: summarize reactions Intro talk: the scientific method Concepts and frameworks we’ll use Examples from a few readings An overview of today’s lab Prep work and logistics for the lab Assignments, schedule changes, etc Science

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outline
Outline
  • Go over the reading: summarize reactions
  • Intro talk: the scientific method
    • Concepts and frameworks we’ll use
  • Examples from a few readings
  • An overview of today’s lab
  • Prep work and logistics for the lab
  • Assignments, schedule changes, etc
science

Science

A framework for solving problems and making sense of the world around you

new college
New College
  • Problem-based seminars
  • Science occupies an embattled, problematic place in our world
  • Conflicts and controversy over the politics of science are frequent and require scientific literacy
  • Hands on experience with the scientific method
points to take away from the reading in angier intro
Points to take away from the reading in Angier: intro
  • Science: it’s not just for little kids
  • Misunderstood and embattled, but useful
    • No $, no fame, yet the engine of society
  • Thinking scientifically is underrated
points to take away from the reading in angier ch2
Points to take away from the reading in Angier: Ch2
  • Science: not just a body of facts
  • Universality of the scientific method
  • Scientists believe there is an objective reality that can be unmasked through tools of science
  • Wonder can be cultivated
  • Quantitative thinking can be helpful
  • Facts, not truth, and science is not opinion
points to take away from the reading in angier ch26
Points to take away from the reading in Angier: Ch2
  • Bias and bad data are our enemy
    • Experimental design and controls
    • Blinding studies
  • Approaching the same problem via multiple routes is often the best way and gives the findings credibility
  • Science is based on defending your data and conclusions in a peer group of others
points to take away from the reading in angier ch27
Points to take away from the reading in Angier: Ch2
  • Scientists think in grey tones and often arguments are not well translated to the popular media
  • Scientists are fixated on the unknown and debate: they are attacked on these grounds by non-scientists who fail to understand what science is all about
  • We are often superstitious creatures who believe things with no evidence; most scientists yield only to scientific arguments
what does scientific literacy mean
What does scientific literacy mean?
  • Being able to sort out what constitutes science and what does not
    • Good science versus pseudoscience or bad science
  • Comfort with common terms and concepts involved in the scientific method
    • Fluency in scientific language (download vocabulary)
  • The ability to explicitly design, conduct, and communicate a science experiment
  • Attaining an understanding and appreciation of uncertainty and conflicting viewpoints
    • Non-dualistic thinking
    • Understanding of science as a process
  • Scientific thinking is applicable to everything
science as process
Science as process
  • The scientific method is a way of approaching the world around us
  • Not mystical or specialist
  • Usually more questions arise than are answered – more hypotheses are generated
  • Inherently iterative
  • You have to expect that you will be proved wrong. We are all blind men describing elephants.
hypotheses
Hypotheses
  • Usually defined as “an educated guess”
    • What is that?
    • A question that arises from observing the world around us
  • Often includes inherent bias
    • Sometimes no one asks the right questions or only asks questions to which they already think they have the answer
  • Can be the product of inductive or deductive reasoning
    • Inductive reasoning is generalizing
    • Deductive reasoning is
  • Must be falsifiable (Karl Popper) and testable
    • Useful in determining what hypotheses are scientific (or are political, pseudoscientific, etc)
scientific method
Scientific method
  • Approximately 11 Steps
  • Process is repeated many times
  • Can NEVER prove a hypothesis
    • Can only reject many, leaving one as best supported by the data
    • “Scientific Proof” is a common fallacy
    • Associations don’t prove causation
    • FACTS not TRUTH
scientific method steps 1 5
Scientific method - Steps 1-5
  • Observe or suspect pattern
  • Posit significance of observed difference
  • Create question to explain pattern
  • Create testable hypotheses
  • Design experiment
scientific method steps 6 11
Scientific method - Steps 6-11
  • Collect data (descriptive stage)
  • Analyze data, primarily using statistics
  • Evaluate hypotheses, accept or reject them
  • Make conclusions based on data
  • Note problems in current work
  • Predict future directions for research
  • The process is the structure for write-ups
parts of a scientific report
Parts of a scientific report
  • Title
  • [Abstract - an overall summary]
  • Introduction - background, question, Has
  • Methods - what we did
  • Results - what we found, graphs, summarized data
  • Discussion - interpretations, predictions
  • References - who we cited
  • Document on course website!
scientific communication
Scientific Communication
  • Written report
    • Traditional
  • Oral presentation
    • Commonly used for preliminary presentation of work to get feedback before writing it up
  • Poster
    • Visual summary of work - used at conferences
  • Web page
    • Can use a written report & make it interactive
experiments
Experiments
  • Independent variable: one thing that changed (measured)
  • Dependent variable: outcome (measured)
    • This language comes from math: y=mx+b
  • Usually experiments must be repeatable
    • Some are not repeatable or even ethically repeatable
  • Always use controls – snake and tadpoles
  • Ethics and experimental design
key concept reasoning
Key concept: reasoning
  • Inductive reasoning:
    • Generalizing: This floor is hard, all floors must be hard
  • Deductive reasoning:
    • (Coming to a conclusion based on premises: all birds have feathers, an ostrich is a bird, so all ostriches have feathers)
  • Key in hypothesis generation and in drawing conclusions from work
  • Often extensions are not valid
key concept errors in analysis
Key concept: errors in analysis
  • Type 1 error: "false positive": the error of rejecting a null hypothesis when it is actually true; observing a difference when in truth there is none.
  • Type 2 error: "false negative": the error of accepting a null hypothesis when the alternative hypothesis is the true state of nature. In other words, this is the error of failing to observe a difference when in truth there is one.
key concept occam s razor
Key concept: Occam’s razor
  • AKA Law of Parsimony
    • The simplest explanation tends to be the best
      • Often also the least entertaining
      • Means that we’re better off not using our imagination too much when trying to explain natural phenomena
  • Simpler theories are often easier to test, so science is biased in favor of them (K.P)
  • Einstein: OR doesn’t mean simplification is best. Things should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler
slide22

Key Concept: the precautionary principle

  • The precautionary principle states that when science is extended and there are risks of irreversible risks to human health or the environment, the burden of proof is on the doer.
  • Species extinction, Global warming, GMOs, Public health, Persistent or acute pollution (endocrine disruptors, asbestos), Food safety (CJD), Artificial life, new designer molecules, etc
key concept non western science
Key concept: Non-Western science
  • Sometimes pseudoscience, often not
  • Ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, ethno-etc.
  • May be linked with superstition or religion
  • Often provides real insight that can be co-opted by university-trained scientists from rich countries
    • Inoculation/vaccination
    • Geography
  • Under the radar
in class readings25
In-class readings
  • Identify hypotheses, explain experimental methods and analyses, and discuss outcomes
  • Were controls used? How?
  • How are these experiments similar/different?
  • How did this study contribute to the creation of new knowledge?
agriculture lab
Agriculture lab
  • Woman’s oldest science
  • “Trial and error” and logic are always used
    • Observing what works and what doesn’t
    • Often leads to spurious conclusions
      • Like hanging bags of water on the wall
      • Mangoes and sugar
  • We’ll be using our basic knowledge of the scientific method to explore the effect of soil composition on crop development
background
Background
  • NPK
  • Various materials add these macro-nutrients
    • We have a few on hand here
    • Blood meal, bone meal, greensand
    • Composted cow doo doo (scientific term)
  • We want to know whether adding these things to the soil will achieve a measurable increase in plant growth
experimental design
Experimental design
  • Three plots, all with different soil types
  • Unimproved soil
  • Soil with composted manure
  • Soil with composted manure and NPK additives
  • Outcome of interest: plant development
hypothesis
Hypothesis
  • We want to know____________________
materials and methods
Materials and methods
  • Tools we need
  • How do we intend to go about answering this question?
    • Data collection plan
    • Data analysis plan
results
Results
  • Pooled class data
  • Graphs and tables
  • Simple statistics
discussion
Discussion
  • Contextualizing results, explaining sources of error, etc
conclusions
Conclusions
  • What did we find? Why does it matter?
logistics
Logistics
  • Need 6 teams of 3 people
  • Each team visits the garden over the next 6 weeks to record data
  • We’ll analyze data all together and each person writes his or her own lab report
need volunteers for these times
Need volunteers for these times
  • Week 0: today
  • Week 1: Sept 3-9
  • Week 2: Sept 10-16
  • Week 3: Sept 17-23
  • Week 4: Sept 24-30
  • Week 5: Oct 1-7
  • Week 6: Oct 8-14
  • Visit at your own discretion sometime that week