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Unformatted text preview: 1. STRATEGIES OF DISCOVERY 1.1 INTRODUCTION ○ Inquiry ~ Process whereby we gain knowledge by observing how things are and thinking logically about what we observed. ○ Social World ~ The part of our existence dealing with how people interact ○ Science = A process of inquiry using logic, observation & theory Logical (makes sense) Has a reference ( observed evidence) Gives a theory (explanation for what was observed) ○ Scientific research = Systematically examine & think about a question. 1.2 SOURCES OF GENERAL KNOWLEDGE 1.2.1 Tradition ○ We inherit a culture containing generally accepted knowledge ~ Knowledge is cumulative & we can learn from previous generations BUT Can be led into falsehood: ○ Thinking traditionally → don’t find out how the knowledge was obtained in the first place → Source of knowledge is not questioned ○ Every scientific discipline is based on a tradition of thought 1.2.2 Authority ○ Accepting something as true because of the status of the person who discovered the truth. ○ Can help ~ The expert probably has experience & knows what he is talking about Can hinder ~ Can overestimate the person’s expertise Experts can be wrong. 1.2.3 Mysticism and religion ○ Religious knowledge is based on the authority of sacred texts ○ Religion can offer meaning, but is not a reliable guide to the literal state of the world 1.2.4 Common sense ○ Ordinary reasoning ○ Relates to what people know intuitively/instinctively ○ Helpful → In everyday life, making decisions & solving problems. → Covers topics everyone knows about & so helps communication BUT ~contains illogical reasoning ~ Doesn’t - systematically consider how ideas are related to each other- collect information systematically ~ Common sense often originates in tradition 1.2.5 Media myths ○ Mass media ~ Powerful influence on knowledge ~ Most people develop their knowledge from what they see, hear & read in the media ~ BUT its chief purpose is entertainment, not to accurately present reality ○ This leads to distorted information & errors 1.3 Errors in human inquiry and how scientists try to avoid them 1.3.1 Inaccurate observation ○ We need to know “what” before we can explain “why” ○ People tend to carelessness when observing everyday events ○ Scientific Observation ~ Contrasts with this in that it is a conscious activity ~ Deliberate ~ Both simple & complex measurement devices help prevent us from making inaccurate observations. 1.3.2 Over-generalization ○ Arriving at a general conclusion about a thing when we have only observed a few cases of that thing. ○ Using a few events to arrive at a conclusion → means we ignore the possibility that observing more cases may disprove our conclusion ○ Esp tempting when there is pressure to reach a conclusion ○ Halo-effect = Over-generalizing from one very good aspect of a thing ○ Scientific safeguards against overgeneralization ~ Sufficiently large samples of observations ~ Replication of inquiry 1.3.3 Selective observation ○ Tends to follow from over-generalization ○ Once you believe events...
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- Spring '11
- Sociology, researcher