Scientific Method and Western Culture
Environmental Studies PHS 100
Dr. David Terrell Warner Pacific College April 14, 2009
Scientific Method and Western Culture
According to Withgott and Brennan, the scientific method is simply aformalized version of the procedures any of us might take, using common sense to solve a problem or answer a question (Withgott & Brennan, 2008, p 11).This process includes the following steps: Make observations, ask questions, develop a hypothesis, make predictions, test the predictions, analyze and interpret the results (Wighgott & Brennan, 2008, p 12).Advances in science usually begins with the observation of some phenomenon that scientists wish to explain. The act of observing, sets the scientific method in motion. Next, questions arise from the situation and scientist attempt to find answers. In their attempt to answer those questions, scientists develop explanations or hypothesis. Those are in turn used to generate predictions, which are specific statements that can be directly tested. The predictions are tested by running experiments or through correlation, statistical relationship among variables. After all these steps have been performed, not in this particular order, then scientists can analyze and interpret the results (Wighgott & Brennan, 2008, p 112,13).The scientific process does not stop with the scientific method, scientific work takes place within the context of a community of peers. To have any impact, a researcher's work must be published and made accessible to the scientific community. The process of peer review, is a valuable step to guard against faulty science contaminating the literature on which scientists rely (Wighgott & Brennan, 2008, p 15).The scientific method has been the foundation of western culture, because science like anything else in life goes through what Withgott and Brennan call “paradigm shifts,” in which one dominant view is abandoned for another. How science works is vital to assessing how scientific ideas and interpretations change through time as new information is collected. The scientific method has been particularly relevant in environmental science, a field that is changing rapidly as we learn vast amounts of new information, as human impacts on the planet multiply, and as we learn from the consequences of our actions (Wighgott & Brennan, 2008, p 16).
As far as characterizing western culture, I have a different point of view than a lot of us. I was born in El Salvador, and growing up in a developing country made me realize how rich the United States is. Not only monetarily, but in every way possible; for example the lush forests, clean rivers, the chance to go to school, go to work, go to church, etc. This is a country that has so much, and yet there is always the need to have more. Everything seems “disposable.” We have disposable dishes, disposable utensils, disposable diapers, disposable cameras, disposable water bottles, etc. We have so many things, cars, shoes, food, tv's, radios, even clothes, because the clothing industry knows that we like to have a lot of everything and the latest of everything. That's why the fashion industry and every other industry out there, is coming up with new and improved something everyday. We like all those things that we can buy and have, but unfortunately our environment is starting to catch up with our “disposable” trend and sooner than later we have to start changing our ways in order to save our planet. We need to educate ourselves and those around us about the need to use, re-use and recycle. Our challenge is to develop solutions to further our quality of life while protecting and restoring the environment that supports us (Wighgott & Brennan, 2008, p 19). With everyone's help we can make a difference. We have to work on teaching the next generation about the importance of sustainability, so that they too can enjoy the lush forest, clean rivers and many other beautiful things that this country has to offer each and everyone of us.
ReferencesWithgott, J., & Bennan, S. (2008). Environment: The Science Behind the Stories (3rd ed.). New York. Pearson Benjamin Cummings. ISBN: 13: 978-0-8053-9573-0