TOK: #18 – Human Science Research Task

Natural Science:

Research Question:
How did the volcanic eruption impact the concentration of toxic gases in the air?

Hypothesis:
The volcanic eruption increased the concentration of toxic gases, such as sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide, in this area.

Methods/Tools for Data Collection:
– use a gas detector to detect what gases are present in this area over a certain period of time

Techniques for Analyzing Data:
– look at past data collected from a gas detector from the same area before the volcanic eruption (if available) and make comparisons or compare it to average concentration of gases
– see how the concentrations change over time with a graph

Human Science:

Research Question:
How were Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar communities affected socially and economically by the eruption?

Hypothesis:
Volcanic eruption led to the destruction of shelters and infrastructures, increased injuries and severe economic lost.

Methods/Tools for Data Collection:
– social aspect  – can be judged based on interviews and surveys that collected data from locals of Heimaey, video footage of the actual situation would also be useful
– economical aspect – can be measured not only by the interviews and surveys, but the statistics generated that looks at the economy (e.g. GDP)

Techniques for Analyzing Data:
– comparing statistics from after the eruption to before
– write up an essay that analyzes how the society was affected with statistics supported


Compare the reliability/certainty of the knowledge your experts will acquire.

Knowledge acquired from the natural sciences will be more reliable and certain due to the fact that it is quantitative, so it cannot be impacted by personal feelings or thoughts. It will also be reliable because the gas detector is meant for detecting gases so the right tool is being used to obtain accurate measurements. Knowledge acquired in the human sciences may not be as reliable because if the data was collected through surveys, personal emotions or judgements may have impacted the responses. It is also hard to verify that all participants responded truthfully. However, using statistics, such as GDP may be more reliable, because the quantitative data may provide for more accurate comparison.

Identify the factors that contribute to (or take away from) reliability/certainty.

Factors that may contribute to the reliability of knowledge acquired in the natural sciences could be the tool used (e.g. different tools have different purposes, deciding which tool would best suit the purpose of the investigation) and empirical evidence (the more data collected the easier it is to verify the accuracy of a theory). Data collected in the natural sciences is also more quantitative than data collected in the human sciences. Factors that may take away from the reliability may be measurement errors that arise during the experiment.

Factors that may contribute to the reliability in the human sciences may be repeated surveys. For example, it would be more reliable to identify an overall trend and draw conclusions from a large number of survey responses as it shows that the trend applies to majority of the population. Although difficult to measure, the truthfulness of the responses would also contribute to how reliable the data is. Factors that may take away from the reliability of the data may be the influence of person experience. For instance, if someone had experienced a volcanic eruption/similar event before, they may not think the impact/shock is as great as someone who hadn’t experienced one before. The extent of the impact of the eruption on individuals would also depend on the person’s own circumstances, which is different for everyone.

Suggest ways that Human Scientists can increase the reliability of their claims.

Human Scientists can increase the reliability of their claims by looking at/collecting more data to draw conclusions. The more data there is that follows and supports the same trend of theory, the more reliable the claims will be. They should also try to control as many variables as possible when conducting experiments, although it is not possible to control every single variable, hence the many assumptions made along with claims in the Human Sciences.

What can you say ‘in general’ about HS as an AOK.

Compared to the natural sciences, knowledge in the human science is often less reliable due to the numerous factors that cannot be controlled during an experiments. However, theories in Human Sciences can still give us a good idea about human behavior in general, with many assumptions made.

 

 

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