Summary of Week 5
This week we’ve looked at the way logical and critical thinking bears on science.
We saw examples of scientists proposing and testing hypothesis to explain the extinction of dinosaurs. We introduced the distinction between verification and falsification and the importance of falsifiability in science. We also looked at inference to the best explanation, an important non-deductive aspect of scientific reasoning.
We described random controlled trials and the nature and role of scientific theories.
We also examined some of the ways science can go wrong or be misused. Pseudo science passes itself off as science, and sometimes we’re tempted to look not for the best but for any old explanation. We saw how researchers can influence the things they’re meant to be merely observing. These problem-cases should remind us of the point and the importance of the scientific method and good logical and critical thinking in science. They aim to help us avoid these sorts of errors.
To conclude the first of the three weeks we’ll spend on applying logical and critical thinking, attempt the quiz and join the discussion on key issues related to logical and critical thinking in science.
© Tim Dare, University of Auckland