Chapter 3: Posing the Questions
In the third chapter of City Lights: Urban-Suburban Life in the Global Society, the author discusses the "romance of science", how we build hypotheses and conduct research and how ideologies and values form our way of thinking. This chapter is important as it challenges the reader to think more analytically and to challenge ideas they may already have formed. "As the late astronomer Carl Sagan put it, 'skeptical scrutiny is the means, in...science...by which deep insights can be winnowed from deep nonsense...'" (page 74). By constantly challenging ideas and uncovering new research to test theories, one can further pass information down from generation to generation. Also, by using proper scientific methods we can separate fact from fiction and better understand new ideas.
When discussing scientific method, the author concentrates on: reasoning processes, systematic analysis and hypothesis construction. Reasoning processes is divided into two ways of gaining knowledge: inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning. Both types of reasoning are important in research as they assist in developing theories through induction and deduction. Inductive reasoning is defined as the process of reasoning from particular examples to general principles (page 96). One example as found in "Step by Step Research", Kimberly Porter Martin, Ph.D. is, "...if you are driving around a community and you see lots of bumper stickers on cars, all of which have people's names on them, you might draw the conclusion that the community was having an election." By using induction, you might hypothesize that based on the presence of the bumper stickers, there is an upcoming election. From our current hypothesis of the bumper stickers and upcoming election, science requires that we test it using further evidence. This would require deductive reasoning, defined as the process of reasoning from general principles to particular examples (page 96). We have already theorized that there is an upcoming election and by using deduction we can narrow down the generalization. For example, "...you might look for signs posted in people's yards and along the roadside that ask people to vote for someone, or you might get hold of a local newspaper and look for articles about an election." In both induction (inductive reasoning) and deduction (deductive reasoning) there is empirical evidence. Empirical evidence is derived from direct observation and sense experience. Without evidence, you cannot have a theory or hypothesis, but you may have some preconceived notions as to how something may or may not work therefore continuously testing these notions is vital to continuing science. Hypotheses and theories are never finite, they are continuously being tested with new research and newly discovered facts. Without the preconceived notions or influence passed down from generation to generation, how do we continue testing and challenging facts?
Conducting proper, accurate research is equally important in science as creating the hypothesis or theory. Research can begin with the scientific method, though it does not need to follow it in such precise steps. Scientific method is defined as a method for doing science based on the assumption that all true knowledge is verifiable using empirical evidence. Well-ordered, successive stages- defining a research problem, constructing hypotheses, data gathering and analysis, and prediction of facts- are outlined. (page 97) As described in the book, the scientific method proceeds in a series of steps including, but not limited to: categorizing facts, constructing hypotheses, analyzing the data and predicting facts. While not all sciences can be laid out in such specific processes, social science especially, it does provide an outline to conduct proper research in order to better inform others. Research must be factual, it cannot be assumed or at the very worst, "made up". The scientific method is often...
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