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Comm301 - Comm301 How do we learn from the world around us...

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Comm301 How do we learn from the world around us? Personal experience and indirect sources We learn about thing like probability; cause, effect o But science makes these clear and gives ways to deal with them systematically o Ex: The harder you work the more likely you are to succeed o Ex: Sometimes you work really hard, but you don’t get what you want o We live our lives by probability; we try to do things that raise our chances of success Prediction—Understanding? o We all make predictions, but don’t understand why we do them Examples of reasons why we believe things: o Personal experience o tradition—It has always been true, o Authority—You believe an athlete telling you that Gatorade is good for your health, but they are not authorities in that field; not doctors o Intuition—Self-evident- it makes sense! Problems of Non-Scientific Beliefs Based on limited knowledge Tend to believe that what is in our minds is the only truth Intuitive thinking/perception Cognitive consistency—once we have an idea of something, we tend to notice things that reinforce our beliefs—selective observation Authorities can make mistakes! Times and conditions may change—so thinking has to be self correcting We also tend to over-generalize Foundations of Social Science Theory o Describe what is and why Ex: Who talks first? Who talks longer, most? o Describe what should be This can be become very dangerous Ex: Galileo—The earth revolves around the sun, but the church said that the sun revolved around the earth. The idea that god made man was the central theme—what should be, Social regularities o Observable patterns in social behavior—Ex: the elevator example o Trivial? Maybe not… We think we know why things are, but after studying things we often find out that what we originally thought wasn’t right.
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o Exceptions? May not make the general rule less important o Aggregates (groups)—Individuals Quantitative, is aggregates—Qualitative, is individual Characteristics of a scientific Approach Law of Parsimony o Keeping it simple—what can we throw out and still explain what we’re seeing? Replication o Can what you’ve seen be seen by someone else? This keeps social science honest o Major strength of science—self correcting Generalizability o Does our study have meaning in another context? Thinking in the social science Ways of seeing the world that dominate at any one time o Frames of reference that organize thinking o Paradigm shifts These are large shifts—Ex: Galileo changing the worlds view on the earth and the suns revolution The end of the holocaust was a paradigm shift—Social Darwinism, which was the cause of the holocaust From paradigms we get theories Theories—systematic sets of interrelated statements that explain an aspect of social life o Theories flesh out paradigms—they are how we explain the world around us, limited by the worldview currently in play
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