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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 hypotheses 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.

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This article is from the free online course:

Logical and Critical Thinking

The University of Auckland

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join:

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  • Pohutukawa tree case study
    Pohutukawa tree case study

    When is it best to express your views by providing reasons? Are there cases in which other ways of expressing yourself might be better suited?

  • Arguments for and against the existence of God
    Arguments for and against the existence of God

    John Bishop and Patrick Girard from the University of Auckland discuss deductive and non-deductive arguments for and against the existence of God.

  • Science and falsification
    Science and falsification

    Why falsifiability matters.

  • Going Vegan
    Going Vegan

    A pretty wild exchange for and against becoming vegan. We'll use it to see how the skills you've learned during the course can be put into action.

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