Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Alison Hoyt's view of the connection between the scientific method and western culture

The scientific method is a six part process that either proves or disproves an idea. Different scientists view their results differently, but they all agree upon the procedure. (Withgott, Brennan)
The scientific method begins with an observation. This is the inspiration behind the experiment. The scientific method states that demanding testing must be assumed at every step of the process. (Backer, 2004) The next step is to ask questions. This phase is exactly that and they commonly derive from the observation. The third step to the method is to develop a hypothesis.  They describe this based on their beliefs that they can explain. Hypotheses are then tested by subjecting them to experimentation and observations; if there is adequate evidence derived from the data, and then the hypothesis becomes a theory. Theories are then required to coincide with the details that developed, other than they should provide a measure to assist in future observations. (Backer, 2004)
The fourth step is to make a prediction. After stating one’s prediction, the fifth step is to begin to prepare the prediction through examination and investigation and test it. This is done by collecting evidence that is either for or against the hypothesis. The sixth step is the overall outcome and results. Not all scientists follow these steps religiously; however these are the primary elements that all scientists will conclude influence their thinking and knowledge. In the scientific method, accurate data is the root of valid observations. Observations can and do take place from natural setting to a laboratory. (Backer, 2004)                                                                                     
 Science is flexible in the sense that there is no strict way to develop a hypothesis or theory. The substance behind the argument is what validates the claim and portrays the experiment as significant is what society depends upon. “To be useful, a hypothesis should suggest what evidence would support it and what evidence would refute it. A hypothesis that cannot in principle be put to the test of evidence may be interesting, but it is not scientifically useful" (Backer, 2004)
Mumford (1986, cited in Glendinning, 1990) wrote that society believes in "the assumption that human improvement would come about more rapidly, indeed almost automatically, through devoting all our energies to the expansion of scientific knowledge and to technological invention; that traditional knowledge and experience, traditional forms and values, acted as a brake upon such expansion and invention; and that since the order embodied by the machine was the highest type of order, no brakes of any kind were desirable....Progress was accordingly measured by novelty, constant change, and mechanistic difference, not by continuity and human improvement." (Backer, 2004)   
 As a Westerner, we rely on this progress for our simple existence. It would seem acceptable on all of our behalf’s to treat our environment with the utmost care and concern; however that is just not the situation. I believe that one factor is not only ignorance, but lack of pure knowledge. Education is essential, as with any subject, to relay helpful and understandable relevant facts and other relevant information to those who either do not know or do not care. My motto is that even if only one person changes their ways that is still change.
Allowing the scientific method to correlate with each of our individual lives is another motive to preserving our earth. I think of it in terms that work for me in my life, because I hate spending the money that I do for gas so I try to eliminate unnecessary trips that require me to drive. It is a win-win situation but it is presented to me in a logical style that does not entail me to become scientific or even philosophical, but responsible to myself and family. Just so happens that I am benefiting my environment as well.
Backer, Patricia Ryaby. 2004. What is the scientific method? Accessed on April 16, 2011, from http://www.engr.sjsu.edu/pabacker/scientific_method.htm.
Withgott, J., & Brennan, S. 2008. Environment, the science behind the stories. San Francisco: Pearson Benjamin Cummings

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