Unformatted text preview: What is Social Science? What Plan for Today Plan
Talk about the nature of science Talk about reading studies in the news “The whole of science is nothing more than a The refinement of everyday thinking” refinement Albert Einstein How does science differ from other forms of knowing? knowing?
Science is systematic; it separates the Science creation of knowledge from idiosyncratic influences. idiosyncratic What are idiosyncratic influences? influences
Individual ways of looking at things in which one person differs from others. one Examples of Idiosyncratic Influences on Beliefs on Inaccurate observation Overgeneralization Selective attention and retention Reflect on two statements… People in the George W. Bush administration People assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted to United States to go to war in the Middle East. Obama is not a U.S. citizen. People’s beliefs are influenced by idiosyncratic features idiosyncratic http://msgboard.snopes.com/politics/graphics/birth http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report Scientific Knowledge Claims Scientific Depend on empirical verification Are “value free”: not about what is good or bad, but about Are what is what Are derived from explicit methods so others can replicate Are findings findings Are cumulative Are in principle falsifiable Falsifiable Claims Falsifiable Can be tested in principle e.g. viewing negative political ads decreases e.g. interest in politics interest Unfalsifiable claims Unfalsifiable Are too vague to be tested e.g. “Reason is the conscious certainty of e.g. being all reality... This unity is consequently the absolute and all truth, the Idea which thinks itself.” – Georg Hegel Hegel Cannot verify through observation e.g. “I cannot conceive of a personal God e.g. who would directly influence the actions The Goals of Science are… The
1. Description Prediction Explanation Control 1. 1. 1. Weaknesses of Science Weaknesses
1. It cannot directly answer questions of It value. value. Great moments in science: Einstein discovers Great that time is actually money. that 2. It is not as objective as some argue It because people are influenced by their perceptions. perceptions. If all economists were laid end to end, they would not If reach a conclusion. Science is Probabilistic Science
• Relationships are not certain.
•It is impossible to study all cases. •Relationships can change with time. •Relationships can vary from case to case. Reading the News Reading What should we look for when reading What scientific claims in the media? scientific Seven critical components to research studies studies 1. What is the source of research or funding? funding? Does the researcher/funding source have a Does vested interest in the results of a study? vested Example: Funding sources influence drug trials Blind studies Double blind: interviewer blind Other interviewer effects 2. What was the nature of the contact between the researcher and the participants? the 3. Who were the individuals studied & How they were selected? How Results of a study apply to individuals similar Results to those in the study to College sophomores 4. What was the exact nature of measurements or questions asked? measurements Studies measure things to draw conclusions How were measurements made? e.g. Survey-question wording effects 5. What was the setting in which measurements were taken? measurements Context matters e.g. Views on punishing criminals change after e.g. high-profile crimes. high-profile e.g. Web Surveys v. Face to Face Medium matters 6. What are the differences in groups being compared in addition to the factor of interest? factor This is a very important problem! This e.g. comparing GPAs: students who smoke e.g. marijuana to those who do not marijuana Ch.7 What is the size of reported effects? effects? Is it large enough to be important? e.g. compare:
Smoking marijuana every day decreases your GPA Smoking by .05 by …by 2.0 Questions? Next time… Theories in social science ...
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