Human Sciences #3

1. The production of knowledge in Human Science is too riddled with issues to give any credence to the claims of experts. Do you agree?
The issue with knowledge in the Human Sciences is the variability of human behaviour. In order to reduce the inaccuracy of claims, investigators can focus the scopes of their research to encompass only a specific group. In reducing sample size, it is possible to make more accurate deductions from a less variable pool of data. This is also a limitation, however, because the sample size restricts the applicability of the conclusions drawn from an investigation.
Another method that was used in our own investigations in the Human Sciences was primarily using quantitative data. More easily measured and thus somewhat less subject to individual bias, qualitative data aids the replicability and accuracy of collected data. For instance, through enumerating hours of sleep, one can gain a sense of the sleeping habits of IB students. The limitation of this tactic is clear, however, as the human sciences require qualitative data in order to accurately represent human behaviour. Human behaviour is qualitative in nature, and cannot be summarised in only numbers. Using the analogy of the sleeping habits of IB students, while the number of hours might offer some insight, they could not encompass the quality of sleep (an inherently qualitative value) experienced by the students. However, qualitative data is not necessarily unreliable. Though in its worst form subject to the researcher’s interpretation, qualitative data can be made reliable by clearly defining terms of an indicator, and using precise descriptions to minimise miscomprehension.
In a field like Psychology, which relies heavily on qualitative data, accurate experiments can still be carried out. By creating and enforcing strong standards of quality in data collection, participating in group verification, and ensuring that the data collection is as accurate as possible, psychological studies can offer valuable insight into the human mind.

2. Summarize in your own words the reading ‘Can we use scientific approach with humans?’
The article discusses commonly raised differences between the production of knowledge in the Human and Natural Sciences and evaluates them. Key points raised include the idea of ‘degrees of certainty’ (that is, the methods of data collection in some areas of the NS allow it to be more precise than in the HS) as well as less accurate areas of the NS that often aren’t discussed. In highlighting these, the author draws connections between the two areas and highlights how criticisms of the Human Sciences can often be applied to the Natural Sciences. However, the author ultimately concludes that, beyond overarching conclusions of the Human Sciences, there’s a dignity inalienable from the human condition that cannot be encompassed by individual claims.

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