It seems a little superfluous to me that every scientific field has its own version of the scientific method. Each requires its own adaptations and emphasis to facilitate the needs of the perspective. The fact that it changes for all fields, is an indicator to me that the logical infallibility of modern science as a whole comes into question.

This classic image is characteristic of the hard sciences, like elementary school chemistry and physics. But this picture is inadequate for the kinds of questions and the kinds of observations that modern science has developed. For example, sociologists will completely immerse themselves within an experience, empathizing with that culture, in attempt to more deeply understand social forces. That seems like a messy pool of jelly compared to the nice, rigid procedure we are taught is the scientific method.

This is much more accurate.

Its rigidity is a holdover from the greko-roman philosophers (who we consider to be the first modern scientists), because they believed in logic and reason. Logic was continually believed to be universal, irrefutable, and as basic as adding. Aristotle outlined different kinds of logical reasoning: abductive, deductive, and inductive.

— Induction supposes that what happens most often, is most likely to happen again. This is supposed to be the only reasoning of the scientific method, whereby competing hypotheses can be selected as they can better predict observable behavior. Deduction relies on principles to make conclusions.

— Problems in deductive reasoning are called logical fallacies, but can be very difficult to spot. If a equals b, and b equals c, then a equals c. This is logical but not necessarily true. Venn diagrams display that combinations of all elements can exist.

— Abduction creates a hypothesis about the past that explains for data. Rather than proving a correlation, it supposes correlation. These methods are used in all fields and interests, but science often takes a reductionistic approach.

So where does analogy fit in? Where do stories fit in? Aren’t they just different forms of hypotheses, and a special kind of model and logic, all their own? They communicate entire perspectives by example and illustration. They can’t have room in science! And yet they they find their way into essays and discussion. They form into entire new sciences, such as when Niels Bohr started drawing quantum theories. Remember DaVinci? Art and science for him were inseparable. He explored the human body, and the limits of mechanical engineering, via his own artistic hand. Why has science shut down the expressive and creative insights which are the engine for the production of good theories???

It seems to me that modern science is only the latest framework of change. Democracy and republic are examples of frameworks of change. Voting is good because it draws upon the citizenry to be responsible for their own governmental conditions. But it is an arduous, hostile process, especially in a place as large and fractured as America. A republic takes representatives for groups of citizens to condense the democratic process into something manageable. Lobbying gets in the way, from which special interest groups vie for a larger voice than individual citizenry. Companies can buy their way into politicians pants as it were.

All forms of art employ frameworks of change. Their only guideline is personal expression, and creativity. But they have subtle forms of variation, such as genre and medium. It is further divided by the purpose of the pieces: art for the sake of art, or art with a message. But artists freely move across the strata of society, proving to be an invaluable academic and functional contribution.

Computer power is exponentially increasing, but our methods are still eons behind our technology. This framework of change is completely dependent on the predictable miniaturization of transistors. This kind of change is unhealthy, change merely for the sake of change, and of speed. Newness has become more valued than the efficiency of those systems, or our understanding of them.

Evolution is a framework of change, which we suppose is a natural process. We also think it is gradual, occurring over many thousands of years as environmental pressures generally select advantageous mutations. But the idea of punctuated evolution, quick changes, while supported in much of the archaeological record, has few to no proposed biological processes.

Even religion can be a framework of change, putting ethical principles foremost, guiding society in the ethical direction of change they wish. Separating church and state has only been a modern framework.

I think one of the biggest ways a person can affect the world is by contributing to changing the frameworks of change themselves. Isn’t this a major concern of all academic fields? I think we need to be tweaking not just what changes, but how we change.

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2 responses »

  1. nessy741 says:

    WOW! What a wonderful point of view. It brings me to this idea of be the change you wish to see in the world. That may be from a more poetic stand point, but I think that is exactly what you were getting at from a scientific point of view. Your very thoughtful in your approach to life and science this is proof of that!

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