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What is Science? The Nature of Science and Scientific Inquiry The Nature of Science Science is based on observations and inferences about the natural world (empirical evidence). Science is a creative human endeavor that is socially embedded.

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What is Science?

  • The Nature of Science and Scientific Inquiry


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The Nature of Science

  • Science is based on observations and inferences about the natural world (empirical evidence).

  • Science is a creative human endeavor that is socially embedded.

  • Scientific knowledge is always tentative (subject to change with new knowledge.

  • Laws and theories are the products of science.


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Hypotheses

  • An hypothesis is a statement that predicts the outcome of an experiment.

  • An hypothesis may be stated as a null hypothesis; that is, the hypothesis may predict no change.

  • Hypotheses are tested by scientific inquiry.

  • Tested hypotheses help build scientific knowledge.


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Scientific Laws

  • A scientific law is a description of a natural phenomenon.

  • Laws are based on empirical evidence.

  • Examples:

    • Mendel’s laws of inheritance.

    • The Hardy-Weinberg Law of population genetics.

  • Laws may change with new knowledge.


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Scientific Theories

  • A scientific theory is an explanation of a natural phenomenon.

  • Theories are based on empirical evidence.

  • Examples:

    • The theory of natural selection.

    • Cell theory.

  • Theories may change with new knowledge


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Scientific Inquiry

  • Scientific inquiry is the process that results in building scientific knowledge.

  • There are three main types of inquiry (scientific studies):

    • Descriptive

    • Correlational

    • Experimental


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Descriptive Studies

  • Descriptive studies describe the object of study in detail.

  • Characteristic of young sciences.

  • Some sciences, such as Astronomy and Taxonomy, rely almost entirely on descriptive studies.


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Correlational Studies

  • Correlational studies describe two events that occur at the same time, and look for a relationship between the two.

  • Many health studies are correlational: they use large databases of health information, and try to answer questions when an experiment would be unethical.

  • However, a correlation does not prove a cause.


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Experimental Studies

  • Experimental studies involve setting up control and experimental groups in order to the effects of one variable on another.

  • Experiments can be used to determine cause.

  • Experiments are used to test hypotheses (not to “prove” them).




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Who is a scientist?

Microbiologists


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Who is a scientist?

Taxonomists


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Who is a scientist?

Geneticists



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Who is a scientist?

Molecular

Biologists