Lab1_Reading - ANT 301 Intro to Physical Anthropology Fall...

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1 ANT 301 Intro to Physical Anthropology Fall 2010 Lab 1: THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD AND SKELETAL ANATOMY In this reading you will become familiar with the scientific method, cranial and skeletal anatomy, and standard anatomical terms used in physical anthropology. The information and terms pertaining to primate skeletal anatomy will be used in many of the future labs. Please refer to the website for additional practice in naming and identifying the different types of bones and teeth. SECTION 1: THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD Science can be defined in several ways, but at the most basic level science can be thought of as a means to answer questions about the world in which we live. It is important to recognize from the outset that science is a tool for understanding physical and biological phenomena, not a system of belief. In short, science is a way of knowing, not believing. This distinction is subtle but significant. Many fields of human knowledge, such as ethics, esthetics, and philosophy, are inherently subjective and therefore outside the scope of scientific inquiry. Science provides explanations about phenomena in our world through a special set of rules called the scientific method , which can be defined as the way of generating , testing , accepting , and/or rejecting hypotheses . Because physical anthropologists are scientists who study the biology of humans and their primate relatives from an evolutionary perspective, they employ the scientific method . As a student in a physical anthropology course, it is important for you to know that the scientific method is a powerful investigative tool. It is equally important to know under what circumstances science can be informative, as well as keeping in mind the limitations of the scientific method. The scientific method is composed of three basic steps, including: 1. Observing phenomena in the world around you 2. Generating hypotheses that may explain these phenomena 3. Testing and verifying those hypotheses through empirical means ( empirical adj. a. Relying on or derived from observation or experiment. b. Verifiable or provable by means of observation or experiment.) The scientific method employs an important concept, the null hypothesis . Whenever you generate a hypothesis , you must accept the possibility (i.e. generate a null hypothesis ) that there is no causal relationship between the variables in question. For example, traffic engineers may test the null hypothesis that heavier traffic during the morning and afternoon is NOT due to people driving to and from work or school. This null hypothesis is useful in falsification (see below).
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2 Once you have generated a hypothesis, you need to verify its validity by testing it. When you undertake an experiment or make observations to test a hypothesis, you will ultimately either accept your hypothesis (i.e., that there is a causal relationship / effect being observed) or the null hypothesis (i.e., that there is no causal relationship / effect being observed) on the basis of the
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This note was uploaded on 02/21/2011 for the course RTF 305 taught by Professor Nasr during the Spring '07 term at University of Texas at Austin.

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Lab1_Reading - ANT 301 Intro to Physical Anthropology Fall...

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