TOK – Intro to Natural Sciences

Reflecting on our discussions in class, and with inspiration from the TED video, what distinguishes Natural Science from other AOKs?

Based on watching the TED talk by Naomi Oreskes and discussions in class, what sets natural science from other AOKs is its heavy reliance on evidence, mostly quantitative. Natural science is in a way similar to mathematics, natural scientists can control the investigation/experiment as much possible to limit uncertainties and assumptions. Therefore, answers from scientific investigations can be explained through quantifiable outcomes. Science within itself is highly controlled, though human scientists that conduct scientific investigations might be flawed as all humans are, most scientific investigations try to limit human influence by doing multiple trials and ranges, also by having highly monitored controlled variables. This is different from human sciences, a human science investigation can often rely on human responses (e.g psychology, history, etc). For an example, when psychologists are trying to analyze a pattern within human response certain objects. Individual volunteer’s mood that day and other individual characteristics can alter the data, to find a trendline, psychologists may have to generalize or ignore anomalies to come to a pattern.

In class, we also debated whether natural science is based on authority. But how do you define authority? If we are talking in regards of authority within its area of knowledge, then TED talk speaker Oreskes gave a very good response: “Science does appeal to authority, but it’s not based on any individual, no matter how smart that individual may be. It’s based on the collective wisdom, the collective knowledge, the collective work, of all of the scientists who have worked on a particular problem.”. In essence, the authority within its AOK of natural science is not based on a singular person, rather a collective.

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