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Related Words, Beliefs, Background for Choice #10

         Worldview Theme #6B: Scientific Method                 Worldview Theme #12B: Non-Rational Knowing    

for a summary read these 5 entries in order given: science--definitions, science--the relevance of, empiricism, testability,
systematic problem solving approaches

for a summary read these 5 entries in order given: creative thinking, insight, dreams, synchronicity, unconscious memory   

alternative hypothesis -- in scientific problem solving, if one rejects the null hypothesis, then the alternative hypothesis must be accepted. The conclusion is that the experimental treatment had some statistically significant effect.

 back of the envelope type calculation--a quick way to take available data, and by rounding off for convenience and making certain simplifying assumptions, to quantitatively (that is by using numbers) assess the practicality of something,  An example follows below in the colonizing space entry. 

bias--a preference or prejudice that inhibits impartiality; see also confirmation bias

Big Bang Theory—the cosmological theory that the observable universe began with everything (all matter, energy, etc) in an incredibly compact, hot, dense state, after which an event (the Big Bang) occurred that began the universe's currently observed expansion.   More observational support comes from the detection and study of a primordial fireball radiation remnant left over from the early days of the universe,  and continuing confirmation of the amounts of elements --notably helium--formed in the first few minutes after the Big Bang (currently believed to be roughly fourteen billion years ago).  An important refinement of this theory occurred (in the 1980s) with the addition of an “inflationary era” to the universe’s initial moments.

causality -- the belief that events don’t just happen randomly or by accident (accidentalism), but that their occurrence can be linked to something else: some force, the prior occurrence of some other event or state, or to a set of facts or laws. Timing is important, the supposed cause (force that acts, energy release, triggering event, etc) must precede or occur simultaneously with the observed effect (phenomenon it supposedly causes). Causality is a cornerstone of the foundation of classical physics. For example, according to Newton’s second law, to change the state of motion of an object a force must act. In the subatomic world governed by quantum mechanics, with seemingly random events occurring, the discussion of causality becomes more complicated. But it certainly seems that in the quantum world, with respect to the occurrence of individual events, causality must be abandoned!

colonizing space—some think of this as a “Plan B” / eventual solution to an overcrowded, heavily polluted, unlivable (due to climate change) Earth.  And accordingly dismiss the need for immediate climate action--despite climate scientists telling us that, unless business as usual changes, we have at most one century before Earth becomes overheated to the point of being a much more challenging place to live than it currently is.  In actuality the challenge of lots of people living on a much hotter future Earth would be nothing compared to their living on Mars: where there is no air to breath,  essentially all the time cold Antarctic type temperatures, no soil with organic material suitable to grow things, almost no atmosphere / magnetic field to protect against solar radiation /flares, etc.  And think of the cost / energy challenge of  moving even a tiny fraction of the world’s  population to Mars? We quantitatively illustrate this with a back of the envelope type calculation using rounded off numbers:   8 billion people with cumulative weight of (at 50 kg / person)  roughly 400 billion kilograms moved first into Earth orbit. While Space X has dropped the costs—roughly by a factor of 20 over USA Space Shuttle costs—they are still high at over $ 2500 per kilogram. In multiplying 400 billion kilograms x $ 2500 per kilogram and  dividing by 100 one calculates a cost of $10,000 billion or $10 trillion to move 1% of the human population into low Earth orbit. Not too bad…but then we have the real costs: transporting them to Mars and providing extensive infrastructure / life support for them live on its surface—they are astronomically more.  Example: in 2015 retired NASA engineers Glenn Smith and Paul Spudis estimated the cost of sending 9 crews (assume total of 50 people) to Mars  in the 2035 era at $1.5 trillion.  Dividing $1.5 trillion by 50 people gives $30 billion / person. Multiplying by 80 million (which is 1% of 8 billion) and dividing by a “learning how to do this more cheaply and negating the extra cost to bring them back to Earth ” generous (and probably overoptimistic?) factor of 10 yields a total cost —to transport 80 million people representing just 1% of the human population—of $240,000 trillion  This is roughly 3000 times greater than the total global GDP ($240, 000 trillion / $80 trillion.)

confirmation basis—the tendency to interpret new evidence so as to confirm existing beliefs and ignore that which might challenge them

conflict resolution and art education--Recognizing that both resolving conflict and artistic creation often involve coming to terms with certain emotions, many educators teach conflict resolution in conjunction with the arts.  Given that suffering often precedes both deeply felt art and coming to terms with past or ongoing conflict, such courses may attempt to promote healing and help build a peaceful environment.  Related aspects of this include helping build creative thinking abilities, expand perception-taking abilities, promote self expression, promote self reflection, encourage expression of emotions, encourage emotional risk taking through sharing, meet basic human needs, develop respect of self and others, develop empathy, and foster teamwork. (adapted from USA National Endowment for the Arts booklet)

conscious vs. unconscious behavior–distinguishes between behavior you were aware of and that which happened in such "automatic response to environmental stimuli" fashion that your conscious mind was unaware of it.  This can be related to Freud’s distinction between the conscious and unconscious mind.  If someone asks about what you are thinking or feeling or exactly how you did something, you have access to some information or details and can give them a report.  But much involving bodily processes or mundane routines happens automatically.  Information or details regarding these are unavailable to you–you certainly couldn't provide them in a report!    

control group -- in scientific problem solving, in designing experiments, this refers to a group of subjects who do not receive the experimental treatment of interest. After treatment, results for this group will be compared with those for the experimental group, which did receive the treatment.

creative problem-solving brainstorming—of course distilling this into some recipe is not what this is sought—in fact just the opposite. So, recognizing that often times the insight that allows making progress or even solving some problem may very well be unique to the particular problem, the context, the people involved, etc. is important.  Nonetheless, approaching this with generic problem-solving in mind,  here is a list of possible routes to making progress / behaviors to engage in / bases to make sure are touched:   creative imagining, dreaming;  generating a number of new ideas, creations, products for consideration; searching diverse realms for new ideas, solutions, products; probing, questioning curiosity to gain new insights;  elaborating on, adding to existing ideas, creations; taking intellectual risks, being bold, daring; adding new levels of complexity to conceptual framework; original thinking, generating unique insights.  (contrast this with systematic problem solving approaches)

creative thinking -- thinking that happens without words or logic, and can involve images, intuition, emotions, and bodily feelings. To put this to work, see the above entry. 

critical thinking skills—generally refers to skills / ability to take facts and form  judgments.  More specifically it may refer to the skills / ability to do an analysis (breaking down into component parts) of a problem or situation based on facts, how they may be related, cause and effect, logical reasoning, forming and testing hypotheses, etc. And do this to rigorous standards: with enough competence, experience and  knowledge to tackle a problem or case, in an error-free manner , free of wishful thinking, with integrity not prejudice or bias, etc.. Depending on the problem or situation as much or more synthesizing (putting together) may be required. All of this is done to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion, solution, or judgment that fairly represents the situation, is plausible, and meets other tests—most critically it eventually stands up to others’ judgment /appeals, attempts to reproduce, etc. And in this way gains acceptance

dark matter / dark energy--hypothetical forms of matter and energy that don't emit radiation but whose existence can be inferred by other means.  Astrophysicists believe that dark matter exists due to its gravitational effects on other matter and that 22% of the observable universe's mass / energy content is in this form. Black holes represent one form of it. Dark energy--believed to account for 74% of the observable universe's mass / energy content--can be inferred to exist from the observed acceleration in the expansion of the universe. Only 4% of the universe is believed to consist of ordinary matter that emits visible radiation. Failure to understand what 96% of the universe is should keep astrophysicists humble! 

data—information, often expressed with numbers, collected through observation, is typically gathered, collected, reported. After being expressed in the most convenient form to represent the knowledge involved, it may then be analyzed and displayed in graphical form.

dialectic method—testing beliefs, searching for truth or the right way through discussion / dialogue.  Socrates used the approach, emphasizing expressing doubt / questioning.  Hegel emphasized a struggle of opposing forces / demands / viewpoints (idealistic vs.  practical) and sought to explain history in terms of synthesis / compromise between extreme positions.

double blind experiment -- an experimental procedure in which both subject and technical assistant interfacing between the subject and the researcher do not know the specific type of experimental treatment involved. They are spared knowledge of these details to avoid bias or prejudice that conceivably could effect the experimental results.

dreams--a series of thoughts, images or feelings --particularly of anxiety or aggression--that one experiences during sleep. While dreams have a long history--the Bible provides accounts of  several seemingly prophetic ones--researchers are unsure as to how to explain them.  Various scientific explanations have been offered: that dreams allow the brain to consolidate memories, consider thoughts / memories / feelings  that would otherwise be repressed, aid creative thinking, anticipate future contingencies, etc. Vitalists postulate that dreams are one way spirits communicate. 

emotional intelligence–a term first described by Mayer and Salovey in 1990, and popularized by Daniel Goleman in a 1995 book. Of interest to both psychological researchers, and the general public, its meaning is still evolving.  According to Mayer, etal in a 2008 Annual Review of Psychology article, emotional intelligence "concerns the ability to carry out accurate reasoning about emotions and the ability to use emotions and emotional knowledge to enhance thought."  Goleman now sees four abilities as contributing to it: the ability to 1) be aware of one's own emotions, 2) control those emotions,  3) sense, comprehend, and respond to other's emotions, and 4) help other's emotions develop in the context of a relationship.  Some feel that EQ (emotional intelli-gence quotient) is as important as IQ in predicting a student's future success.  Many schools now mount efforts to help students build emotional intelligence.

emotions -- another one of those difficult to define terms. Here are three definitions: 1) a catch all term for subjectively experienced states dominated by feelings; 2) the affective or feeling aspect of human consciousness; 3) from Steven Pinker: “...emotions are mechanisms that set the brain’s highest level goals.

empathy–concisely it refers to "fellow feeling" , that is imagining that you are in the other person’s shoes and experiencing his or her feelings, struggles, etc.  Emotionally immature people, in particular those who after experiencing so much pain as children have learned how to block it, may not feel compassion for another's pain.  Empathizing with others thus requires being in touch with your own feelings.    

empiricism -- the belief that all knowledge comes from experience. As part of the foundation of science, it stresses that scientific knowledge ultimately should be based on observation and experiment. See also experiment

energy--the ability to do work (done when a force acts to move something over some distance in the direction that force acts).  Energy cannot be created or destroyed--only changed from one form to another. Forms that energy takes include mechanical, gravitational, electromagnetic (including ultraviolet, light, infrared, microwave, radio, etc), electrical, nuclear, heat, sound, etc.

experiment -- an experiment is to be distinguished from an observation, in that the former involves the scientist interfering with nature and creating conditions or events that favor making a particular observation or establishing a particular hypothesis.

explicit knowledge -- knowledge that can be expressed in words or with symbols (perhaps mathematical symbols) or otherwise abstracted from an actual individual experience. If the reality experienced is like the terrain, explicit statements describing it are like a map of the terrain. As science extends its map of reality, the scientific conceptual framework is steadily refined and becomes a better guide to the underlying terrain. But one must recognize that a limitation of science is that -- as good as the map is -- it can not replace the terrain itself, the actual experience of reality.

feedback–information modifies the state of a system, changing it so that future system behavior changes. Learning provides a simple example, where the system involved can be, not just our knowledge but, our entire worldview. Here the most important lessons learned change our behavior the most. Voting in an election is another simple example of a feedback process at work. Feedback also has a place in technical devices: where  information about the state of a hardware system (output) is fed back to the system input to adjust, regulate, or modify its behavior.   Positive feedback reinforces input and can lead to exploding (or imploding) output.  Negative feedback opposes input and can lead to stable behavior.  Both can be present in complex systems.  Technology-based  examples include thermostats in heating / cooling systems, and elevator position / speed controls. Biology based feedback examples include blood sugar regulation in the body, populations of prey / predators in ecosystem, etc.

humility and science--Twentieth century scientific advances--in quantum mechanics and chaos theory--underscore that both a fundamental doubt exists in nature and that scientists' ability to use physical laws and make accurate predictions of events is inherently limited.  Not only do all scientific measurements have an uncertainty (or built-in error) based on the instrumentation used to make them, but quantum mechanics' uncertainty principle asserts that it is meaningless to attempt to, without error, pin down the exact values of various physical quantities (such as the position and speed of an object).  Chaos, in the words of John Briggs and F. David Peat, "as a metaphor has a built-in humility that previous scientific metaphors did is as much about what we can't know as it is about certainty and fact."

hypothesis -- in scientific problem solving, an educated conjecture or statement offered as a tentative explanation of data relevant to the problem being considered.  A hypothesis can  involve a model to be tested.

ignorance, two types of–a distinction between types of ignorance: problems vs. mysteries (first made by linguist Noam Chomsky).  A problem solving approach can be employed to better understand what we already know at least something about, whereas those things that are totally bewildering can be considered unfathomable mysteries that we can only stand in awe of. Whereas the scientific method focuses on problems, mysteries are the stuff of religion. A long-term goal of science is to steadily incorporate more phenomena once considered mysteries into its framework of understanding.  

insight -- discerning or sensing intuitively the inner nature of something. It can involve a sudden recognition that leads to an intellectual leap involving reorganizing or restructuring knowledge that makes relationships or function clear

instinct–an organism's response to environmental stimuli or inherent deposition toward a particular behavior.  It is  genetically determined, hard-wired and thus independent of previous experience, learning, or memory.  Distinguishing instinctual from learned human behavior can generate controversy amongst sociobiologists, psychologists, etc

integrating vs. reducing--in studying organized wholes where a hierarchical multi-level structure exists, consider two contrasting strategies:  integrating or synthesizing and moving from lower level to higher level vs. reducing as part of an analysis and moving from higher level to lower level.  The first of these approaches takes a more "wholistic" view, the second a more "reductionistic" one.  

intuitionimmediate insight that occurs without conscious awareness.  To some intuition is an almost mystical process, or others a response to very subtle cues and stimuli received unconsciously.    

knowledge, two kinds of -- Bertrand Russell distinguished between 1) Knowledge by acquaintance, that is knowledge gained by direct experience involving a) sensory experience, b) objects of memory, c) internal states, d) ourselves, and 2) Knowledge by description, that is thought-out or mediated knowledge of a) other selves , and b) physical objects (our conceptualization of them, not direct sensory experience ) The distinction he makes is what others (most notably Michael Polanyi in Tacit Knowledge, and Graham Martin in Shadows in the Cave ) have elaborated on in distinguishing between explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge.

logical reasoning, use in math, science & engineering--such reasoning most notably involves use of deduction and induction. Deduction starts with axioms: unquestioned facts /assumptions / premises.  It then applies rules and through a sequential process necessarily arrives at new facts / conclusions.  It is a "top down" approach.  In contrast, induction, in "bottom up" fashion, takes many related facts and generalizes them to arrive at a rule or rules.  The former proceeds from wholes / more general to parts / more specific, whereas the latter moves in the opposite direction.  Beginning with Euclidean geometry, much of mathematics developed in deductive fashion.  In applied science and engineering, specific problems can be solved by a deductive process in which an accepted scientific theory is used to formulate a specific hypothesis to test / confirm.  This can be rather mundane.  Exciting scientific advances often result from an inductive process: from many observations, patterns are found, leading to hypotheses and ultimately, a more broadly applicable theory.



orderly universe--the belief, which can be traced back to Greeks such as Thales in the sixth century BC, that there is an order and organization to the universe due to its functioning in accordance with a small number of natural laws--laws which can conceivably be uncovered and understood by humans. Such a notion is diametrically opposed by the belief that the universe is unorganized, transient chaos whose workings can never be comprehended.  Harvard historian of science Gerald Holton's term for the origin of belief in an orderly universe is "The Ionian Enchantment."

matter, building blocks of--Pure substances which can't be chemically broken down into simpler things are called elements: there are around 100 of them found in nature.  The smallest parts of an element that retain its distinctive chemical properties are called atoms--which themselves are made of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Atoms, which are roughly one tenth of a nanometer (nm = billionth of a meter) in diameter, chain together to form molecules. While molecules vary greatly in size, they are typically around one nanometer across.  Nucleic acids (like DNA and RNA), amino acids, and proteins are examples of biologically important molecules--which are typically synthesized inside cells. 

matter / energy equivalence--refers to physicists' assertion that all matter--specified by its mass--has (rest) energy, that energy can become matter, and that E=mc2 demonstrates their equivalence. 

meditation--employing techniques to regulate one's attention and produce an inner state of clarity, serenity, and even bliss. Some meditate to calm one's inner self, using it as a sort of mind / body medicine; others to experience higher states of consciousness (even cosmic consciousness) in a mystical / religious quest.  Some techniques--called concentrative--involve narrowing one's mental focus to a pre-selected object or process such as one's breathing; others--called mindfulness --expand one's inner vision in non-critical way to include a whole background or field without thinking or dwelling on any of it   

model -- a human construction created to represent a pattern of relationships in data or in the human or natural world. Models can take various forms: mathematical, computer based, mechanistic, etc.

null hypothesis -- that, after accounting for the effects of uncontrollable variables and other sources of error and uncertainty, the results (based on measured values of dependent variable(s) of interest) for the group subject to the experimental treatment and the control group will be essentially identical. If the null hypothesis is accepted -- typically only after statistical analysis of the experimental data -- then one concludes that the experimental treatment had no effect.

Occam's Razor--the principle that, if two hypotheses or explanations do an equally good job fitting or explaining the data, the simpler one--with the fewest number of assumptions--is   preferred.  It has been referred to as "the law of parsimony".

physics -- the science concerned with understanding the physical world, that uses physical concepts, most notably matter, energy, and forces, to make sense out of it.

positivism (as applied to science)–the belief that science should concern itself only with what can be directly observed.  In philosophy it is a form of phenomenalism, the doctrine that only objective phenomena perceived by the senses, and not subjective things or abstract constructions, are known. Thus Ernest Mach, both physicist and positivist, never accepted the reality of atoms (which in his heyday around 1900, had not been captured in photographic images, like they have been today).  Even in the 21st century, a few "positivists" question aspects of physicists' theories.  For example, they fault the Standard Model (of fundamental building blocks of matter / forces ) for being based on constructs like quarks and gluons–which in principle can never be isolated and observed.  Most physicists are not so constrained, being "realists" who will support whatever model does the best job of explaining the observations and making useful predictions.  Few, if any, however, will involve metaphysical entities (vital spirits or whatever) for which there is no observational evidence in their modeling of Reality

premonition--a forewarning, perhaps an omen or dream, of a future event

prescient--to have knowledge of an event before it occurs, foresight; see also premonition

probability / random events--the likelihood of a particular outcome occurring. In certain cases, this can be computed by dividing the number of ways the event can occur by the number of total outcomes possible.. Example: in the roll of a die (singular of dice!) the probability of rolling the number three is 1 divided by 6 = 16.7 % or .167. A probability of 100 % or 1.00 means it is absolutely certain that a particular outcome will occur. The concept of probability is intimately connected to that of events that happen at random--meaning with no predictable pattern (at least with respect to knowing for sure what will happen next).

pseudoscience -- something that seemingly has a scientific basis, but, upon closer investigation, does not. Examples of pseudoscience include beliefs in 1) horoscopes, astrology and that human personalities are shaped by stars in the zodiac, etc. 2) magical powers of crystals, 3) an ancient technically advanced civilization of Atlantis, and 4) extra-terrestrial beings in flying saucers are visiting Earth. Each of these -- and many other similar beliefs -- have been investigated using scientific methods and thoroughly debunked as lacking in truth, in useful application or both. Many pseudoscientific beliefs persist because 1) people uncritically believe in them without doing their own analysis of the merits; 2) many promoting such beliefs profit from doing so.

pseudoscience and conspiracism--in explaining why their hypotheses, theories, inventions or supporting data behind them are not accepted by the scientific community, pseudoscientists have been known to allege that others (scientists, corporate or government officials, etc)  have engaged in conspiracies to suppress them 

quantitative--aspects of something specified with numbers obtained by counting or measurement; to be distinguished from qualitative, which refers to the essential nature, character, or attributes of something described with words not numbers

radiation--refers to energy transmitted as waves or moving particles, and is most fundamentally distinguished by whether it is ionizing or non-ionizing.  Ionizing radiation can be dangerous to living tissue in that it can cause genetic mutations and kill cells. Sources of it are high energy electromagnetic radiation (like x rays and gamma rays) and radioactive (unstable) material often associated with nuclear energy related technologies.  Lower energy electromagnetic radiation--like visible light, microwaves, or radio waves--is non-ionizing. 

rationalism -- a philosophical orientation that links finding ultimate truth to employing reasoning.

Reality–the totality of all things, structures (actual and conceptual), events (past and present) and phenomena, whether observable or not; what a worldview (whether it be based on individual or shared human experience) ultimately attempts to describe or map.    

reductionism -- the philosophical belief that understanding a complex phenomenon, system, structure, organism, etc. (or solving a complicated problem) is best done by breaking it into smaller, more manageable parts (problems), and studying those parts (or first solving those smaller problems). Often accompanying a reductionistic approach to understanding is the belief that the whole is nothing more than the sum of the parts. Reductionism is the opposite of wholism (holism).

relativism and science--Relativism is the philosophical belief that truth can vary with culture and circumstances and that there are no truly objective standards or criteria for judging it. Some relativists have pointed out that scientists are people who, like others, are captives of society's constructs and prevailing beliefs (which can change). Many go on to question both science's objectivity and its progress toward uncovering fundamental truths. In response, Nobel Prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg replies, "It is simply a logical fallacy to go from the observation that science is a social process to the conclusion that the final product, our scientific theories, is what it is because of the social and historical forces acting..." He goes on to make an analogy with those arguing about the best path up a mountain peak, and concludes that they ultimately either "find a good path to the peak or they do not, and when they get there they know it."

relativity theory--asserts that it only makes sense to describe motion in relative terms: there is no, absolute, fixed, stationary frame of reference.  Relative motion between two reference frames that move at a constant velocity with respect to each other is treated by special relativity.  This postulates that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.  General relativity handles accelerated motion--and is linked to gravitation (see space-time continuum).  While relativity theory, worked out by Einstein between 1905--1915, revolutionized physics, it is not needed unless objects / particles move at very high speeds / possess high energy, or where gravitational forces are incredibly strong.  Relativity has been confirmed by nearly a century of physicists' experimental testing to a high degree of precision.

reproducible results -- results obtained by careful adherence to, and documentation of, experimental or other procedures so that others can repeat the work and verify them. Obtaining such results is an important goal of scientific investigation.

right brain / left brain--the two hemispheres of the brain are specialized for performing different functions. Understanding verbal communication, speaking, reading and writing, along with analytical reasoning, abstract and critical thinking are left brain centered. In contrast, the right brain is predominately at work during strenuous physical activity, non-verbal communications, dreams, and is called on for assessing spatial relationships, three dimensional vision, face / pattern recognition, and in making intuitive / wholistic leaps. It has been hypothesized that whereas the left brain processes information sequentially, “bit by bit“, in linear, ordered fashion, the right brain stores and retrieves whole patterns, in “all at once” fashion. Some associate different types of consciousness with each hemisphere--the analytical left brain’s being one very much aware of the passage of time, the mystical right brain is “in the moment” and “lost in space”. Emotionally, the left brain seems connected with positive feelings like love; the right brain with negative feelings.  It is important to realize that the human brain is incredibly complex, and that the above picture of right brain / left brain is too simplistic.  Thus it has been argued that only heterosexual, right-handed males exhibit the type and degree of specialized brain hemisphere function described above. In females, where the corpus callosum connection between the two hemispheres is typically thicker, signals travel more readily between the two halves of the brain and supposedly bring more “right brain” emotional responses!  

science--definitions of -- one of those difficult to define terms. Here are three definitions: 1) the study of matter, energy, nature and natural phenomena focused on finding order and universal laws; 2) a body of knowledge ultimately based on observation obtained by application of the scientific method; 3) a methodical effort to provide a map or conceptual framework for understanding reality. In this latter regard, see theory

science and democracy--the origins of both can be traced to ancient Greece, and both require social environments valuing honesty, reason, skeptical evaluation of new ideas, debate, and free inquiry.  One science writer (Watson Davis) way went so as far as proclaiming "the scientific way is the democratic way!"  Yet while science and democracy feedback loops as key parts--one involving hypothesis testing, the other people voting--there is an big difference.  In deciding whether some scientific hypothesis is to be embraced, decisions are based not on polls where all votes count equally but rather on the verdict of those best qualified to judge how well the hypothesis fits the data! 

science vs. technology, distinguishing between them -- whereas science involves understanding nature, technology involves controlling it. Whereas technology initially developed in trial and error fashion, by the 20th century most significant technological advances were founded on scientific understanding (applied science).     

science--the relevance of Consider these three comments on this matter: 1) "Who are we? The answer to this question is not only one of the tasks of science but THE task of science."  Erwin Schrodinger   2) "By emphasizing and explaining the dependency of living things on each other and on the physical environment, science fosters the kind of intelligent respect for nature that should inform decisions on the uses of technology."  Science for All Americans, by F. J. Rutherford & Andrew Ahlgren    3) "Science alerts us to the perils introduced by our world-altering technologies, especially to the global environment on which our lives depend.  Science provides an essential early warning system."    Carl Sagan  

scientific literacy--according to the National Academy of Sciences, this is "the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity. It also includes specific types of abilities."

scientism–asserts 1) the methods of the natural sciences should be used in all areas of investigation including philosophy, humanities, and social sciences, 2) only these methods can fruitfully be used in seeking knowledge.

space-time continuum--a concept that was introduced by Einstein with his relativity theory. In the simplest mathematical models, the three dimensions of space are linked with a fourth one: time.  This space-time structure (think of it as flat in a two dimensional, analogy sense) is distorted--warped or curved--by matter. The greater the concentration of matter, the greater space-time is distorted: something that general relativistic physics connects with the force of gravity.  

synchronicity–according to famous psychologist Carl Jung, this refers to "temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events." In simpler terms this means the events occur either simultaneously or nearly so in meaningful fashion, but yet they have no evident cause and effect connection.  Jung's followers believe that such events occur much more often than would be expected if they were due to mere random chance coincidence.  Synchronicities, they add, provide evidence of a collective unconscious, the existence of connectedness at a higher (normally unperceived) level, and that consciousness contains a "reality structurer" which psychically affects Reality.    

systematic problem solving approaches -- while the scientific method represents the ultimate general approach, there are others that are focused on particular types of problems. Here's a  recipe that students can use in solving word problems involving math... 1) read the problem carefully, establish what you want, and assign a symbol (variable) to this unknown  2) similarly establish and represent what information you have, 3) find or construct an equation that has "what you want" on its left hand side, and "what you have" on its right hand side, and 4) Plug the specific values for what you have into this equation and thus figure out the previously unknown value for the variable representing what you want. Contrast this approach with another general one--something  that values something else important to science: imagination and creative problem-solving brainstorming. 

tacit knowledge -- knowledge that is ineffable, that is can not be put into words, symbols or otherwise made into explicit knowledge. It is argued that you both know much more than you can describe, and that often you know but can’t identify how it is you know. Tacit knowledge is intimately connected with personal experience of reality, whereas explicit knowledge is one step removed from reality. It is argued that the attempted transformation of tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge (by putting one’s experience into words) can not only at times be difficult, fall far short , or be impossible, but can lead to falsification. Such falsification results when an experienced “whole truth” becomes a pieced together collection of parts (words and symbols) and something much different from the whole. Mystical experience is firmly set in the realm of tacit knowledge.

testability -- refers to the idea that for a statement or hypothesis to be considered scientifically acceptable it must be testable -- that is, conceivably it could be shown to be false. Here are two similar statements: 1) the entire universe is permeated with an undetectable pure substance: the quintessence;  2) all space is permeated by a substance that is at absolute rest (meaning all motion is relative to it): the ether.  The first is not a scientific statement because it is not testable. (The second statement was most notably tested in the famous Michelson-Morley Experiment of 1887). See also reproducible results. 

theory -- a general principle or principles based on well tested hypotheses put forward to characterize and explain a collection of facts and observations associated with some area of investigation. Out of particularly good theories come predictions, which, if verified, lead to investigators placing greater confidence in the theory.

thinking, convergent –bringing information, facts, and procedures together to focus and narrow in on (what may be a single) the problem solution. Often more appropriate for math, science, engineering problems.

thinking, divergent—out of the box thinking / creative brainstorming  that broadens and expands in response to triggers, stimuli, prompts. Often more appropriate for problems in the humanities / arts where there is no single right way to proceed

uncertainty principle -- practically applicable in the microscopic realm of physics, perfectly knowing both the position and the speed or momentum of a particle is impossible. This principle, first formulated in 1927 by Heisenberg and fundamental to quantum mechanics, can be explained by thought experiments in which one realizes that any attempt to pin down the exact position of a particle disturbs it and changes its position. Therefore the concept of scientists making perfect measurements is meaningless, all measurements have some associated uncertainty.

unconscious memorya term that refers to those acts, events, and feelings that have been repressed.  Such repressed memories, along with wishes and even instincts, are the source of unconscious conflict that Freudian psychoanalysis posited was the key to understanding and treating emotional problems. The importance of the role of the unconscious in  human behavior has grown in recent years with research indicating that many decisions are made without conscious awareness.  

wholism (holism)– a philosophical orientation that promotes consideration of whole systems, rather than exclusive focus on individual, component parts.  This consideration is urged in the belief that the essence of the system can not be grasped by merely analyzing its constituent parts.  Examples of systems that lend themselves to wholistic study: a human being, the human species, the Earth’s biosphere, planet Earth, the Milky Way Galaxy, the universe.  The opposite approach to wholism is reductionism. 


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