Unit 02--Theories & Science

Unit 02--Theories & Science - Key distinctions...

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Unformatted text preview: Key distinctions Theories Theories & Science Non-science Sociology of the Paranormal, Unit 2 Science Sociology 330 Spring 2012 Pseudoscience [1] What is “science” A method for observing the world “A set of explicit, abstract, rigorous and logically related statements that explain explains a general class of general class of phenomena within a prescribed domain.” control, precision, simplification A process for improving knowledge What is a “theory”? trial-and-(elimination of)-error evolutionary, cumulative A repository for theoretical knowledge [2] [3] Theory properties and their opposites Theory components Property___- - -___Opposite_______ explicit abstract rigorous logically related statements explain general class of phenomena prescribed domain … vague, implicit … … … concrete, specific specific careless, loose unrelated, random, disjoint statements accept uncritically specific, individual phenomena any time & place … … … terms: words or symbols words statements: terms conditions statements: terms & conditions clearly defined & understood by audience “If x is true, then y is true.” or “x y” arguments: connected statements connected xy yz xz [4] premise premise premise conclusion [5] Example: Example: Social Impact Theory Capturing “reality” abstractly (simplified version) The greater the Number of others, the greater the social impact on the target. 3. The greater the Social Impact, the The greater the the greater the target’s change toward the source’s beliefs. 1. 2. N SI SI Change N Change [6] [7] Theories in science Some Theories WellWell-built: “Balance Theory” (social psychology) “Network Exchange Theory” (sociology) Theories are explanations explanations “Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection” (bio.) PoorlyPoorly-built: They answer the “why” question They motivate and guide research, generate motivate and guide research generate predictions, give meaning to observations When are theoretical claims appropriate for scientific treatment? “Conflict Theory” (sociology) “Symbolic Interaction Theory” (social psych.) “Creationism Theory” (biology) When they are testable, and when tests are repeatable [8] Benefits of theories Improve over time Focal point for research Qualities of good theories Systematize knowledge [9] L_____ S_____ Tool for applied research & engineering C_____ Resource for understanding naturallynaturallyoccurring phenomena P_____ G_____ [10] [11] Common sense is often… Science vs Science vs. common sense In science, the more unlikely or important a claim is, the more direct support it requires before acceptance. requires before acceptance. Circular Too specific Too general Superficial SelfSelf-contradictory Extraordinary claims require _____ evidence Un_____ Subjectively validated V_____ Un_____ [12] [13] Hallmarks of pseudopseudo-science Anachronistic revival of rejected ideas Ex.: genetics of pathological mutation in creation sci. Mystery-focused Hallmarks of pseudopseudo-science violates _____ criterion of science Ex: creation science and the fossil sequence Explanation by spurious similarity stories treated as data Ex.: von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods select what fits, ignore rest; quantity over quality Ex.: UFO’s Unfalsifiable MythMyth-focused creating mysteries and fantastic explanations rather than doing basic science Ex.: Bermuda Triangle, poltergeist cases GrabGrab-bag use of evidence employs the rhetoric of metaphor astrology as “tidal force”; biorhythms as circadian [14] [15] Hallmarks Hallmarks of pseudopseudo-science Scenarios-asScenarios-as-explanations long, historical account; non-parsimonious Velikovsky’s Worlds in Collision Exegetic research The “paranormal” label dredge for patterns, infer deep meaning “Bible Code” method & prophesies in Moby Dick Resist informed critique scientists must defend claims, but admit problems ad hoc rationalizations; student’s astrology project [16] “Paranormal” often serves as a r_____ r_____ category: that which is not explained by “normal” theories Most efforts to present, investigate and explain paranormal claims are non-scientific or nonpseudopseudo-scientific Important: applying the “paranormal” label the explains nothing; an indication of the absence of “normal” explanations [17] End of Unit 2 [18] ...
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