109, General Oceanography
Spring 1996, Learning Community Section
Unit1, Topic 1 -- How to Look at this Class.
The Scientist's World
The Basic Assumption
A real world exists and we can perceive it with our senses.
A "Model' of the Scientist's "Worlds"
Assumption of the Existence of a Real World?
- Clearly philosophically debated
---- expected in a Philosophy Class but not very productive in this class.
- Rules out "Supernatural" Occurences
- Note that this exclusion of supernatural events does not suggest that the right observations have been made or that we are capable of explaining the observations at any particular moment!
- The "one-time" unrepeatable "observation" receives a very low
credibility, if any, in the development of a scientific conceptual
Linkage between Real and Conceptual Worlds
Based on observations, data, facts, etc. and
the repeatability of the observations is VERY important!
Development of Conceptual Models
The Inductive Process...
creating the model, explanation or "hypothesis"
An important process in human processing of information,
it is illustrated well by Sherlock Holmes' putting all the "facts" together to create his incredible explanations of reality.
The Deductive Process...testing the "hypothesis"
Putting explanations of reality or hypotheses to the test,
a role that Dr. Watson plays in the Sherlock Holmes books.
Validation of the Model
PROGRESSION IN STATURE
Via extensive deductive testing of the model, and positive results, the
idea gains stature in the scientific community. There is no tribunal that
decides upon elevation of a hypothesis to a theory or a theory to a
scientific law. It happens as models explain the real world effectively
and allow effective predictions.
- advances in science are frequently made by individuals who "Question Authority!" (Might change your attitude toward the bumper sticker you see on an old VW bus in Berkeley and or lead you to being the next Albert Einstein.....)
- the process is, importantly, a human process and can it can thrive (or suffer from) the nature of the human species.
As such intuition, creativity, ethical issues and communications
play important roles
- absolute truth in science is only as good as the extent of inductive testing of the model and that even great predictive models can be shown to be false and/or limited in their application.
Some examples of major conceptual changes in the human view of the real world
1. Flat to Spherical Earth
What is the evidence that an individual can observe?
2. Geocentric to Heliocentric Models
The Catholic Church and Galileo
3. Biological Evolution
Still challenging the human models of reality, example of the School Board in San Diego
4. Fixed to Mobile Continents
Your instructor's own education spanning the change...taught that
continents were fixed and oceans permanent in undergraduate school and
that continents engaged in a ongoing "slam dance" in graduate school
Applying it to Reading Assignment
How do the following illustrate an aspect of the scientific method?
- Ben Franklin -- 1769 (physical oceanography)
- H.M.S. Challenger -- 1872 - 1876 (all aspects)
- Nansen and the Fram
- Wegner - 1912 (marine geology)
On to second topic