Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Science and Cultural Influence by Deborah Levi

PHS 100A Environmental Studies
Warner Pacific College
July 28, 2014

Science and Cultural Influence

            Withgott and Laposata (2014) define the scientific method as a “technique for testing ideas with observations” (p. 10). Scientists use this method to identify results and realities through measurable relevance. “Truths” are established through a process of observation, hypothesis formation, experimentation design, hypothesis testing, and possible conclusions (Helmenstine, 2014). Knowledge is gained through critical thinking (Withgott & Laposata, 2014) and is applied in all facets of the natural and social world.  Formulated from Greek philosophers and founded on the assumptions of Aristotle, the scientific method still exemplifies the basic notion that humans are thinking beings and can formulate answers through methods (PBS.com, 2003). Western culture is highly influenced by the scientific method to the utmost foundation of its creation. In this paper, I will discuss the scientific method and its influential use in western culture and I will include my thoughts on the definition of western culture.
            Luckily for western society, science has come a long way since the seventeenth century. No longer do we think the earth is flat or the world only exists for as far as our eyes can see. We now know eating watermelon seeds will not produce a watermelon growing in our stomachs or that running outside with a wet head will give us a cold. All of these “truths” at one point were dispelled by a method of scientific design. The scientific method is implemented as a tool to dispel myths and deduce knowledge through reasoning.
            Reality is relative to cultural beliefs and customs. The reality that the world was flat became a scientific “truth” through the available means of scientific discovery of that time. Columbus had good reason to believe the earth was indeed round but convincing others would prove to be difficult. He would use the scientific method to prove his assumptions. The earth was observed to be flat due to the assumption that one could not see farther than the edge of the ocean, a ship would disappear as it reached the edge in the distance, monsters were lurking in the depths and no one had a different answer. Upon these observations the hypothesis was created that the world was flat and ended at the horizon edge. Columbus conducted experiments by enticing sailors and their ships to sail towards the horizon to find if the hypothesis was correct. He concluded as the ships neared the perceived end of the earth the sailors would see a continuation of ocean and the ships would reach Asia safely. For the few who were brave enough to sail the conclusion was correct and the earth was proven to be round. Of course, the earth was known to be round since Greek times but due to the cultural influences of Columbus’ time the earth remained flat until the scientific method was implemented. The use of the scientific method continues to shape and mold the western culture in present day. For instance, “many scientists are motivated by the potential for developing useful applications, whereas others are motivated simply by a desire to understand how the world works” (Withgott & Laposata, 2014, p. 9). Humans are reasoning beings and as such humans rely on scientific tools to create meaning and knowledge.
            To define western culture is difficult. Western culture is individualism, scientifically based, right to happiness, and having the ability to obtain and thrive (Western Culture Global, 2009). But western culture is not only in the western world. The culture can be adopted through-out the continents; it is evident in other countries besides the United States. Western culture is a state of mind; a way of living through constant development and forward movement. Western culture has been influenced by the scientific method in every aspect; in the beliefs, values, and knowledge of the people. The culture is a science based society implementing scientific concepts to decipher and solve complexities of life. The method western culture uses to heal, nourish, believe, survive, and operate is through a scientific construct. Western culture heals and medicates by scientific design; the use of the scientific method is significant to the discovery of healing methods, medicines, and cures. The method is used in farming and agricultural arenas for enhanced efficiency and higher volumes. Religious realms are affected by the scientific method in explaining evolution. The ways in which we live and thrive are all facets discovered or somehow touched by the scientific method. Western culture is steeped in science; it is the foundation in which the culture is built.
            The scientific method is a foundation for the existence and fortitude of the western culture. Westerners rely on the basic tenant that humans are reasoning beings and therefore can deduce knowledge through a method of scientific design (PBS.com, 2003). Western culture is influenced by the scientific method in all facets because it is the method in which the foundational “truths” are established and re-established.

Helmenstine, Ph. D, A. M. (2014). Scientific method steps. Retrieved from:             http://chemistry.about.com/od/lecturenotesl3/a/sciencemethod.htm  on July 25, 2014. 
PBS.com (2003). Medicine men and the puzzling placebo [web feature]. Retrieved from:             http://www.pbs.org/saf/1307/features/knows.htm  on July 25, 2014.
Western Culture Global [website] (2014). Western culture knowledge center: What is western             culture?. Retrieved from: http://westerncultureglobal.org/what-is-western-culture.html              on July 25, 2014.

Withgott, J., & Laposata, M. (2014). Environment: the science behind the stories (5th Ed.). New             York, NY. Pearson Benjamin Cummings.

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