1.1_Intro_to_biology - Welcome to the Survey of Biology...

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Unformatted text preview: Welcome to the Survey of Biology course. This is the first topical presentation and like all subsequent presentations will be numbered with week number and session number (e.g., 1.1 = week 1, session 1). 1 This presentation will lay a conceptual foundation for our study of biology. 2 It’s important to review some foundational ideas concerning science in general. Biology is part of a broader human endeavor of systematically forming and organizing scientific knowledge. Many philosophers of science differentiate science from other ways of knowing by noting these three elements of science. Scientific knowledge is typically characterized by it’s empirical nature, that is, scientists generally use observation and experimentation to derive scientific knowledge. Sometimes scientists conceive of scientific knowledge without observation; however, it’s still expected that observation will be used to evaluate the validity of those concepts. Which leads to the next point: that scientific knowledge is something that can be tested and shown false if, indeed, it is false. For example, something that can’t be observed or detected in reliable way would not be falsifiable. Leading to the last point: that only natural phenomena are the subjects of science. Science is typically conducted with the underlying philosophy of naturalism which asserts that reality is governed by natural laws. and not supernatural forces. Scientists can have a variety of philosophical or religious views; however, they typically still conduct their work with the assumption that natural laws govern observed phenomena. This is referred by some as methodological naturalism. 3 Now more on what is meant by systematic. One can categorize the complex nature of science by recognizing that scientists can derive knowledge by just observing or by actively manipulating natural phenomena. For example, a scientist could be observing a high level of deformity in frogs that live near agricultural areas and less deformity in frogs that live distant from the fields. This association could lead to an inductively reasoned conclusion that some agricultural practice, such as pesticide use, is causing the deformity. This hypothesis could be tested with an experiment where frogs are exposed to a specific pesticide at different levels and examined for deformity. If only exposed frogs showed deformity, than this would provide evidence for the original hypothesis. It’s important that a basis of comparison is included; this is called the control. In the case of the frog experiment, we would have a group of frogs that were control....
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1.1_Intro_to_biology - Welcome to the Survey of Biology...

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