Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Paul Barnum III's view on Scientific Method and Western Culture

Scientific Method and Western Culture
Paul Barnum III
PHS 100A Environmental Studies
David Terrell
Warner Pacific College
March 21, 2014

Scientific Method and Western Culture
            It has been said that the scientific method has had quite an influence on Western culture over the years.  Since I have not spent much time studying either of these concepts, I am looking forward to learning more about each of them.  For this paper, I will discuss what the scientific method is along with defining Western culture and how science has had an effect on what it is today.
            When Western culture is discussed, many people have different opinions on what things are responsible for shaping it into what it is today.  In my research, I found that “Western culture is a body of knowledge derived from reason.  This foundation of reason has made possible a vast accumulation of understanding related to reality or nature, including human nature” (Western Culture Global, 2009, para. 1-2).  There are many main ideals involved with this understanding which include individualism, happiness, rights, capitalism, science, and technology.  Since a lot of this understanding and development is based on science and technology Western culture is also referred to as advanced culture.  The thought behind this is that the ideas and values within the culture promote the development and sustainment of advanced civilization (Western Culture Global, 2009, para. 3-4).  This is where the scientific method comes in.
            To keep civilizations and culture moving forward into the future, scientists have to test new ideas by critically examining evidence.  To examine this evidence, scientists use the scientific method.  In very basic terms, this method:
Involves looking at the world around you, coming up with an explanation for what you observe, testing your explanation to see if it could be valid, and then either accepting your explanation (for the time being…after all, something better might come along!) or rejecting the explanation and trying to come up with a better one. (Helmenstine, 2014, para. 1)
This ongoing process has been proven over the years to be very effective in validating different observations.  These observations can range from very simple to some of the toughest theories ever tested.
Typically there are four to five steps in this process, but it really depends on how you break up the steps while doing your research.  The first step is to develop a hypothesis.  The textbook states that “scientist’s address their questions by devising explanations that they can test.  A hypothesis is a statement that attempts to explain a phenomenon or answer a specific question” (Withgott & Laposata, 2013, p. 11). 
Next the scientist comes up with predictions based on their hypothesis.  These are specific statements that can be directly tested.  Then the scientists test the predictions.  This can be done by gathering evidence that could disprove the hypothesis.  The main form of testing is done from experimentation.  During the experiment scientists try to manipulate different conditions that can change.  It is important to stage multiple tests of the same comparisons to ensure that the test results are valid (Withgott & Laposata, 2013, p. 11). 
Finally, the scientists have to record data and then analyze and interpret the results.  A lot of times the data is not clear which may require more experiments and retesting until a conclusive result can be reached.  If these experiments disprove their original hypothesis, a new one is formulated and the process starts over again (Withgott & Laposata, 2013, p. 11).
            Overall, I feel that science makes sense as one of the core values of Western culture.  As cultures grow and move forward, new ideas and thinking have to be tested and using the scientific method is a solid process to use.  Because this method is centered heavily on reason, it is no surprise that is has played an important role in influencing so many things including Western culture.

Helmenstine, A. M. (2014). The scientific method. Retrieved March 17, 2014, from Chemistry:
Western Culture Global. (2009). What is western culture? Retrieved March 17, 2014, from Western Culture Global:
Withgott, J., & Laposata, M. (2013). Environment: the science behind the stories (5th Ed.). New York: Pearson Benjamin Cummings.

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