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How Do We Know?

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by

Diana Rice

on 21 September 2015

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Transcript of How Do We Know?

How Do We Know?
How have we known in the past?
Philosophical approaches:
The use of logic, intuition, and observation

Physiology and the physical sciences

Experimental psychology
The predispositions of philosophy combined with the approach of the physical sciences
Four Canons of Science
Determinism
Empiricism
Parsimony
Testability
Tradition
Logic
Conclusion
How have we known in the past?
Metaphysical approaches: The supernatural controls us
Animism
Mythology / religion
We’ll talk more about this on Friday!
Astrology
Animism: Everything exists in unity, all beings are ensouled.
Parsimony
Assumption that when choosing between theories, if they both do an equally good job of framing our observations, we should choose the simpler theory

We shouldn’t make more assumptions than are absolutely necessary.
Testability
Assumption that scientific theories should be testable (confirmable or disconfirmable) using currently available techniques

Falsifiability: We should go beyond just testing to confirm, and actively seek evidence that could disconfirm our hypotheses.

Operational definitions allow us to test hypotheses
Determinism
Assumption that the universe is orderly, and that everything is caused by something
The difficulty is that we’re not always good at determining what the right cause is
Superstitions

Theories: a statement about the causal relationship among variables.

How do these people know?
Things to Consider When Looking for Causes
We often overlook the real cause
Some events are just coincidences
Sometimes the real cause is another event that is correlated with the suspected cause
Causes cannot happen after their effects
Assumption that the universe is orderly, and that everything is caused by something
The difficulty is that we’re not always good at determining what the right cause is
Superstitions

Theories: a statement about the causal relationship among variables.
Empiricism
Assumption that some ways are better than others for figuring out the order in the universe

Empiricism suggests that the best way to do so is to make observations
Why?
Operational Definitions
Operational definition: A definition of a variable or construct in terms of precisely how it will be measured

Self-report measure: A measure in which participants report on their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
Behavioral measure: A measure in which the researcher observes and records some aspect of participants’ behavior
Physiological measure: A measure that involves recording a physiological variable
Operationalizations are a recipe.
Science vs. Pseudoscience
Pseudoscience: A set of beliefs or activities that is claimed to be scientific but lacks one or more of the four features of science

Why learning it is important
Brings the canons of science into sharper focus
Helps to identify and evaluate pseudoscientific beliefs and practices when encountered
Pseudoscience and Psych
Opposites attract
We only use 10% of our brains
Mozart makes infants smarter
Low self-esteem is a key to future psychological problems
Full moons trigger wacky behavior
How do we know what we know?
Write down 3 things that you believe to be true
Share your list with your neighbor
“Why do you believe this to be true?”

Two major ways scientists describe how we know:
Non-empirical
Empirical
Observation
Assumption that the universe is orderly, and that everything is caused by something
The difficulty is that we’re not always good at determining what the right cause is
Superstitions

Theories: a statement about the causal relationship among variables.

Authority
This course will provide you with tools to make knowledge claims based on a scientific approach
Full transcript