Philosophical Foundations of Science Empiricism: Our learning and memory are primarily derived from our experience of events of the world –Aristotle –Locke “tabula rosa” Rationalism: The source of true knowledge is logical thinking or reasoning ability –Plato
Scientific Method (Stanovich, 1998) Science: a way of thinking about and observing the universe that leads to a deep understanding of its workings. 3 key features: 1)The use of systematic empiricism: the practice of relying on observation. 2)The production of public knowledge 3)The examination of solvable problems
The Research Process (Dyer, 1995) Problem formulation Data gathering Theory development Development of applications
Relative Importance of Different Ways of Knowing to Different Belief Systems (Pelham & Blanton, 2003) ReligionGovernmentPhilosophyScience 1. authority 1. logic1. observation 2. intuition 2. observation2. logic 3. logic 3. intuition 4. observation 4. authority
What is Baloney Detection? (Sagan, 1996) Difference between science and pseudoscience Identifying a sketchy or questionable claim –All swans are black –High protein diets –Shark cartilage to treat…
The Tools Test other hypotheses –to eliminate potential alternative explanations Don’t own an hypothesis –do you have a vested interest? –don’t keep any “pets”
The Tools Logical argument is only as strong as its premises Occam’s Razor –the simplest possible explanation is always to be preferred to more complicated alternatives Is it possible to test the idea?
Logical Fallacies Confusion of correlation and causation –e.g., high correlation between ownership of appliances and use of birth control in Thailand –therefore, get people to buy toasters and they will use birth control Effects can be the result of multiple causes To claim causation: 1)Covariation (correlation) between variables 2)Effects follow causes 3)The manipulation of a cause will result in the manipulation of an effect
Logical Fallacies Ad hominem –Attack the argument not the person Authority –Again, the status of the claimant is irrelevant Scare tactics, adverse consequences –Buy this so you are not seen as uncool –Greenhouse gases and the end of the world
Logical Fallacies Appeal to ignorance –Hasn’t been proved false –Yet there may be no evidence whatsoever! e.g., aspartame and cancer in humans Special pleading –Is it really necessary to suspend our civil liberties? –You don’t understand national security
Logical Fallacies Begging the question –e.g., “we must institute the death penalty to prevent violent crime” –But does the violent crime rate in fact fall when the death penalty is imposed? Observational selection –Highlighting hits, forgetting misses –Suzie lost 50lbs. taking product S –But no one else did!
Logical Fallacies Misuse of statistics Inconsistency of standards –e.g., lying about sex vs. lying about WMD Non sequitor (does not follow) –Poor logic –We won today because God was on our side Post hoc, ergo propter hoc –Inferring causation because 2 events occur in sequence –May simply be a coincidence