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Social Science 1. Knowledge. Sources of knowledge. 2. Science 3. Scientific Method.

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Presentation on theme: "Social Science 1. Knowledge. Sources of knowledge. 2. Science 3. Scientific Method."— Presentation transcript:

1 Social Science 1. Knowledge. Sources of knowledge. 2. Science 3. Scientific Method

2 Science and Knowledge  How much do we know?  How do we know what we know?  Scientific knowledge vs common sense

3 How do we know what we know?  World is flat vs World is round

4 How do we know what we know?  It’s cold on the dark side of the moon (your physics instructor told this, or maybe you read it on the NASA Web page)  People speak Chinese in China (You may have read National Geographic )  Vitamin C prevents cold (You may have read Health magazine)

5 How do we know what we know?  If you study hard you will get “A”  Females live longer than males  We know all these things because somebody told them to us and we believed what we were told

6 Sources of Knowledge  Tradition  Authority  Common Sense  Media Myths  Personal Experience  Science

7 Tradition  Women have done the laundry for centuries, so it is a continuation of what has happened for a long time

8 Authority  My dad thinks that women should do the laundry because it is women’s job

9 Common Sense  Men just are not as concerned about clothing as much as women are, so it only makes sense that women do the laundry more often  Women are more skilled

10 Media Myths  Television commercials show women often doing laundry and enjoying it, so they do laundry because they think it is fun

11 Authority  We trust in the judgment of the person who has special training, expertise, and credentials  Movie actors evaluate the performance of automobiles

12 Authority  Popular athletes discuss the nutritional value of breakfast cereal

13 Tradition and common sense hinder human inquiry  It is silly to question tradition  Women are more likely to be victims of crime  Older people are more likely to be victimized

14 There two ways to know things  Agreement (we cannot learn through personal experience all you need to know)  Direct experience-observation  Possible conflict between something everyone else knows and what you experience  Examples?

15 Example  Party with excellent food (one meal is especially zesty)  Your direct experience provided you with this knowledge  You were told that “you have been eating breaded, deep-fried worms”  Your response is dramatic: your stomach rebels, and you throw up all over the living room rug

16 Point of the story  Both your feelings about the meal are real  Initial liking was your own experience  Feeling of disgust was strictly a product of the agreement with those around you that worms aren’t fit to eat  What is wrong with worms?  “How do you know whether worms are really good or really bad to eat?”

17 Agreement  Cultural tendency to agree  “Group thinking”

18 Solomon Asch’s experiment (1951)  Examined the extent to which pressure from other people could affect one's perceptions  He told the subjects he was studying visual perception  The task was to decide which of the bars on the right was the same length as the one on the left

19 Solomon Asch’s experiment

20  Students gave their answers aloud  Only one student in each group was a real subject  All the others have been instructed to give incorrect answers on 12 of the 18 trials  The real subject was the next-to-the-last person in each group to announce his answer so that he would hear most of the confederates incorrect responses before giving his own  Would he go along with the crowd? Solomon Asch’s experiment (1951)

21 Findings  37 of the 50 subjects conformed to the majority at least once  14 of them conformed on more than 6 of the 12 trials  Asch was disturbed by these results: "The tendency to conformity in our society is so strong that reasonably intelligent and well-meaning young people are willing to call white black"

22 Why did the subjects conform so readily?  Interviewed after the experiment  Most of them said that they did not really believe their conforming answers, but had gone along with the group for fear of being ridiculed or thought "peculiar."  A few of them said that they really did believe the group's answers were correct.

23 Conclusions  People conform for two main reasons:  Because they want to be liked by the group  Because they believe the group is better informed than they are  The group pressure can lead to modification and distortion, effectively making you see almost anything

24 Scientific knowledge  Science is a social enterprise that attempts to provide answers to our questions about state of the world employing scientific method  When we talk about science we think of natural sciences

25 Scientific Method  The scientific method is a way to ask and answer scientific questions by making observations and doing experiments

26 Elements of Scientific Method  Reliance on the senses (empiricism is a core element)  A priori statement of hypothesis  Replicability (repetition of experiments or studies utilizing the same methodology)  Communicability of results  Institutionalized skepticism  Potential to falsify any hypothesis

27 Is sociology science?  Sociology studies people  Human beings are qualitatively different from the objects of study in the natural sciences (rocks, stars, chemical compounds, etc)  Humans think and learn, have an awareness of themselves and their past  These unique human characteristics are the reason for the debate how sociology should look like

28 The Complex Nature of Behavior  In trying to understand behavior we need to consider not only individual goal and preferences, but also the nature of the situation to which a person is responding an how they understand that situation  We must also attend to the background social and cultural context out of which the behavior emerges

29 The Complex Nature of Behavior  Behavior is seen as being a function of the person, the specific situation in which the person is immersed, and the cultural context (Cronchab, 1957; Ross and Nisbett, 1991)

30 People react to the same situations differently  Because of who they are, because of what they bring to the situation (past experience, genetic endowment, expectations, preferences, and even mood)  Ask 10 people what they think of a particular restaurant/movie/class  All this makes researchers’ life more difficult

31 Newton's law of gravitation  Determines the strength of the gravitational force between physical objects like galaxies, stars and planets, clouds of dust or light rays  The gravitational force between two bodies of mass m and M is described by Newton's law: F=G mM/R*2 G is Newton’s constant of gravitation G = x 10**(-11) m3 /kg s2

32 Law in social sciences? F = G Height*Weight/GPA+Q Where G=Constant Q= number of friends

33 T he steps of the scientific method 1) Ask a Question 2) Do Background Research 3) Construct a Hypothesis 4) Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment 5) Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion 6) Communicate Your Results

34 The steps of the scientific method

35 Ask a Question:  The scientific method starts when you ask a question about something that you observe: How, What, When, Who, Which, Why, or Where?  And, in order for the scientific method to answer the question it must be about something that you can measure with a number

36 How do you develop a usable research question?  Choose an appropriate topic or issue for your research, one that actually can be researched  List all of the questions that you'd like answered yourself  Choose the best question, one that is neither too broad or too narrow

37 Choose the best research question 1) What is the 1994 rate of juvenile delinquency in the U.S.? 2) What can we do to reduce juvenile delinquency in the U.S.? 3) Does education play a role in reducing juvenile delinquents' return to crime?

38 Do Background Research  Scientists must build on the work of other scientists  Otherwise science could not advance beyond what one person could learn in a lifetime  Before beginning a study, the scientist studies all- important information that has to do with the problem  For instance, a library of scientific papers, journals, and books is an important part of a research center.

39 Construct a Hypothesis  A hypothesis is an educated guess about how things work:  "If ___[I do this] _____, then ____[this]_____ will happen"  If runners drink water and run in a race, then they will run faster than runners who drink a sports drink

40 Hypothesis  The hypothesis gives the experimenters a point to aim at  But no matter how reasonable the hypothesis seems, it cannot be accepted until supported by a large number of tests  The research worker must be open-minded enough to change or drop a hypothesis if the evidence does not support it.

41 Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment  Your experiment tests whether your hypothesis is true or false  It is important for your experiment to be a fair test  You conduct a fair test by making sure that you change only one factor at a time while keeping all other conditions the same  You should also repeat your experiments several times to make sure that the first results weren't just an accident.

42 Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion  Once your experiment is complete, you collect your measurements and analyze them to see if your hypothesis is true or false  Scientists often find that their hypothesis was false, and in such cases they will construct a new hypothesis starting the entire process of the scientific method over again  Even if they find that their hypothesis was true, they may want to test it again in a new way.

43 ``Falsifiable'‘ hypothesis  There is a very important characteristic of a scientific method which differentiates it from an act of faith  Hypothesis must be ``falsifiable'‘  This means that there must be some experiment or possible discovery that could prove the theory/hypothesis untrue

44 Is this theory falsifiable?  ``The moon is populated by little green men who can read our minds and will hide whenever anyone on Earth looks for them, and will flee into deep space whenever a spacecraft comes near''

45 Is this theory falsifiable?  There are no little green men on the moon

46 Examples 1. These green men are designed so that no one can ever see them: not falsifiable theory 2. On the other hand, the theory that there are no little green men on the moon is falsifiable (or ) scientific: you can disprove it by catching one

47 Statement that we cannot falsify  A hypothesis may propose that males who robe banks are motivated by an unconscious impulse to resolve their guilt over their childhood sexual attraction toward their mothers

48 Statement that we cannot falsify  If research finds enough bank robbers who fit this description, then the theory is supported

49 Statement that we cannot falsify  If research uncovers that bank robbers claim their only motive is money then that does not mean that the theory is rejected  Denial of these feeling by robbers supports the hypothesis, because the same unconscious impulse that motivated them to rob also rendered them unconscious of their true motivation

50 Communicate Your Results  Professional scientists communicate their results by publishing their final report in a scientific journal or by presenting their results at a scientific meeting


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