PHS 100A Environmental Studies
Warner Pacific College
July 27, 2014
Scientific Method and Western Culture
Science is a core value and belief system of Western culture. Scientific knowledge has been made possible by reason and logical problem solving. This has marked the history of science, which has in turn grown roots in the history of Western culture and its development. The scientific method is a formula that helps the process of understanding the world in which we live in. “The scientific method is a technique for testing ideas with observations. There is nothing mysterious or intimidating about the scientific method; it is merely a formalized version of the way any of us might naturally use logic to resolve a question” (Withgott, J & Laposata, M, 2013, p. 10). The knowledge and processes we as a society have gained from science has put us ahead in many ways, but I believe some of these practices have left us searching for the answers to big questions without thinking outside of the scientific box. “Compare Western science with traditional knowledge. Whereas Western science favor’s reductionist, mechanistic and quantitative methods, traditional knowledge observes natural phenomena from a global point of view” (Laccarino, 2003, Table 2). The scientific method starts with observation, which is the oldest way to solve a problem.
The scientific method is a six step technique that helps scientist and people alike solve problems or prove their specific hypothesis. This is a simple way to lay things out in order to piece together the questions and answers the world is searching for. Observation is where these questions start once a phenomenon or issue is presented. We use observation to establish a problem, assess safety or the situation, and to see how the natural orders of things work or are working. Once a person or group has been able to observe the situation it is a natural response to have questions about why and how things are the way they are. “Curiosity is a fundamental human characteristic” (Withgott, 2013, p. 10) and we see this play out in everyday life. I think that every idea starts with a question. In our culture we have learned how to question things and not just take things at face value. Through questions our curiosity drives us to seek for answers and truth.
“A hypothesis is a statement that attempts to explain a phenomenon or answer a scientific question” (Withgott, 2013, p.11) which gives us a place to start researching and deducting. When a scientist makes the hypothesis then predictions of the outcomes are produced. Predictions can be tested by several different techniques, and the hypothesis is either found to be true or can be disputed. To test these predictions experiments will need to be performed to gather evidence. “An experiment is an activity designed to test validity of a prediction or hypothesis” (Withgott, 2013, p.11), and from there data needs to be collected in order for the person or persons to analyze the finding which leads to the results or outcomes. This may appear to be a clear cut way to come to logical explanations, but many times “the scientific method loops back on itself, often giving rise to repeated rounds of hypothesis revision and new experimentation” (Withgott, 2013, p. 11). Many different tests and retests may have to be administered throughout this process until a scientific answer is agreed upon and retested by peer reviews. Repeatability and reliability is critical in order to give the world the most accurate answers to world’s big questions.
It is important to have a way to find the truth and not rely on one person’s opinions and beliefs. A person’s reality can be skewed by many different things, but the facts are hard to dispute once they have been properly tested and retested. “The defining feature of the scientific revolution lies in how much scientific thought changed during a period of only a century, and in how quickly differing thoughts of different natural philosophers condensed to form a cohesive experimental method that chemists, biologists, and physicists can easily utilize today”(Kent, J. 2006). Western culture has made great strides to improve the world we live in, and is making even more changes and discoveries that are needed to continue to make the world a cohesive place for all humans, animals, plants and the planet itself. There is so much left to learn, and I think that we can move towards observation of non-westernized cultures for some of the answers we are searching for to enhance the longevity of the planet and overall health of its people.
Kent, J. (2013, January 10). The impact of the scientific revolution: A breif history of the experimental method in the 17th century. Retrieved from OpenStax-CNX WebSite: Retrieved from the OpenStax-CNX Web site: http://cnx.org/content/m13245/1.1/
Laccarino, M. (2013, 1 3). Science and Culture. Retrieved from EMBO report: http://embor.embopress.org/content/4/3/220 DOI: 10.1038/sj.embor.embor781
Withgott, J. &. (2013). Environment the science behind the stories. Boston: Person Education.