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Natural Science VS Human Science
After looking at the picture below, you now have some questions from Natural Science experts and Human Science experts.
Jodi Duncan amid dried up dams at the West River property. Source
Most grain growers in WA are harvesting bumper crops, but that’s not the case along WA’s south coast where farmers face drying dams, are selling off or handfeeding sheep, and are getting barely half their normal cropping yields.
Choose 1 question you developed from NS
How will the drought affect the species in WA?
– Using samples (certain area) and recording down the population of different species.
– Using scientific instruments to collect data (health of the animals and plants; body fat rate; water content; sunstroke or not; humidity in the air to predict the possibility of rain)
– sampling: select several samples from different types of ecosystems.
– Deduction from the sampling data collected
– Look up similar cases happened in history. Compare the similarities and then predict the possible effects.
– Compare the data with the recorded data before the drought.
– Make sure to check the other element which alters the living of the species.
Choose 1 question you developed from HS
How is the drought in WA affecting population movement?
Design a research task or experiment to answer both questions (one for each)
Your outline must include basic information about the following:
*this is not meant to be a big task. Most of your efforts should focus on the TOK question below
The TOK Part (for your iFolio):
Compare the reliability/certainty of the knowledge your experts will acquire.
In natural science, it is quite reliable as the massive samples decrease the uncertainty while in human science, the reliability really depends on human thoughts which alters all the time, make the conclusion very hard to be certain. In the case of the drought in WA, natural science is based on the data of a small area, which reflect the whole situation of the big area. Although there are some anomalies, the data is still very reliable. For human science, the scientists conduct a census, which includes all the population of WA, so the claims derived from the data is reliable. However, there are a few factors affecting the certainty of the data which are listed below.
Identify the factors that contribute to (or take away from) reliability/certainty.
In human science, there are a lot of factors that might affect population movement. Not only the drought that causes the lack of access to water, as well as variables such as economic factors, political factors. People would choose to move to places that have better economic states and policies that can benefit them. Also, if the human scientists carry on a census, they only collect data once, which means if they conduct the census in the afternoon, people live there might be away for work, so the data is not accurate. Therefore, from this case, we can know that in human science has a lot of uncertainties because there is not a point which all the things are set or all the people are present, and it is hard to assume the reasons of human thoughts.
In natural science, uncertainty depends on the reliability of the data collected. As the scientist cannot do detailed research on every single individual of every species, they need to choose samples. However, the samples scientists have chosen might be a special case which causes an error and alters the final conclusion. There is also a possibility of errors appear in the measurements. Compare to human sciences, natural science does not relate to human thoughts. The effect on the species will not change whatever people think. Therefore, if the data is very reliable, the conclusion that scientists made will mostly be very reliable.
Suggest ways that Human Scientists can increase the reliability of their claims.
In this case, to increase the reliability of the claims, human scientists should increase the time of collecting data. For example, they should collect data in the morning, in the afternoon and at night respectively. The more data they have, the more accurate the observations they can make. As well as Increase the number of samples is one thing that natural scientists can do. As the reliability of their conclusion depends on the data, more reliable the data is, more reliable the conclusion is.
What can you say ‘in general’ about HS as an AOK?
Human science is an area of knowledge that consists of Economy, Politics, Psychology and subjects that are based on human behaviour. Compared with natural science, human science has more uncertainty because humans are not predictable. However, there are still some similarities between human science and natural science. Both of them require data collection and data analysis to claim.
Read 2 of the following resources and respond to the following prompt:
When scientists and mathematicians use the word ‘prove’ do they mean the same thing?
Explain your answer.
Student TOK ESSAY
Handout on AXIOMS
Article on Uncertainty
Mathematics is based on an axiomatic system, which the axioms are defined by mathematicians. However, we never prove the validness of the statement. Euclid came up with a set of axioms and claimed that all the truth in math can be derived by the 5 axioms. Bertrand Russell was able to prove a mathematical truth 1+1=2 by using Euclid’s axioms. Here, prove means using some existing definitions of math to show a correct statement. However, the definitions can be changed so that Euclid’s axioms were proven not definitely right. Lobachevsky and Riemann denied the fifth axiom, which is the whole is greater than the part, by establishing a whole new system.
According to mathematical uncertainty, a proof has remained the same over the 2500 years since Euclid came up with the model, which means prove in math is follow a set of logical steps to achieve a conclusion, can be also called deductive reasoning. Compared to natural sciences, math is exactly certain. However, the old mathematical uncertainty can be potentially undermined because there is a lot more specialization in math so more proofs have been made.
From the two articles, I believe that “prove” in math is simply a process that people use deductive reasoning and follow the basic math axioms, which can be different in different systems of math. For science, “prove” is a way to find out the truth of the observation in real life.
Read two of the four articles in the Maths folders and do the following:
Is mathematics an effective way to describe the world?
Mathematicians, engineers and physicists have different perspective about the Platonist view. Professor Abbott claimed that math is not exceptionally good at describing reality, which is ineffective, based on the non-Platonism viewpoint that math is an invention. Effective math provides compact, idealized representations of the inherently noisy physical world. Math is a way to make compact descriptions of our observations because we have limited brain power, which makes math useful. However, when the cases are not successful, means not compact, math is ineffective.
Why math works
There has always been a debate about whether math is an invention of human or it is discovered in physical world. An astrophysicist Mario Livio suggests that both invention and discovery play a crucial role in defining math. Math is effective because it quantifies real world phenomena. In a passive way, mathematicians continued to analyze an assumption made by Lord Kelvin that atoms are knotted tubes and the theory they developed provides important insights into current physics. Therefore, human invent mathematical concepts by way of abstracting elements from the world, and then make connections between the concepts, because the process of inventing and discovering is manmade. Scientists not only choose how to solve the question, but they also seek for a reasonable mathematical way. However, math is limited because it is possible to have a mathematical prediction on a phenomenon, but there is no principle. In conclusion, Math is a combination of invention and discovery, since all the concepts are invented but they follow the nature of the world thus discovered.
A conjecture is a theory that hasn’t been proven, but it is a pattern that can be found out in many cases. However, a theorem is a true statement that is proved by people based on logical postulate. An example for conjecture could be addition: 1+1=2, everyone knows it but no one has proven it. An example for theorem is pythagoras theorem: it is proven that in a triangle, hypotenuse squared is equal to the sum of the other two sides squared.
I agree with his statement. What he means is that maths has a great impact on our intuition which tells us if our intuition is right, and tames creativity means maths has control of creativity so that creativity doesn’t go beyond craziness. From the example of folding a piece of 0.1mm paper by 50 times, the height of it can reach the sun from the earth, our intuition tells us that is impossible based on our mathematical knowledge. However, if we do the math calculation rigorously, the example is true. Therefore, the example shows that math can truly affect on our intuition, but it is sometimes inaccurate, while it gives the creativity a bit of limitation because we can calculate the answer of a math problem in real life so the problem is realistic.
Although the truths in maths are eternal because they are proved by people, this doesn’t necessarily mean maths has a privileged position in TOK. What makes an area of knowledge in TOK more privileged is based on the validity of ways to know about that knowledge and how important the area of knowledge is in my opinion. Since the truths of maths are eternal, we can use the theorems and conjecture forever and never get the answers wrong, maths is clearly very important to our human progress. But it doesn’t make maths more privileged than other areas of knowledge. Other area of knowledge like natural science has a lot of theorems that are proven to be true and eternal as well, which is also significant to human. The knowledge that we gain from art might not be eternal, but it is individual knowledge, so it’s better to have temporary knowledge that we can work on it so people can improve and expand our knowledge. Each area of knowledge has its own significance to human as it provides special knowledge that other areas of knowledge can’t fully cover even though there is overlap in some areas of knowledge.
Consider the following claim:
I don’t agree with the claim above, what I believe is that art is full of knowledge, not pure entertainment. According to the article ‘Can knowledge be found in works of art’ by Jessica Herrington and the speech ‘The true purpose of art’ by pianist Aurelia Shimkus, the message that both of them want to deliver is that art gives us a lot of knowledge, but the knowledge it gives us is different than the one science gives us, it is conceptual. The knowledge that science gives us is direct, it is fact or something that can be tested. However, what we learn from art, is emotional knowledge. It is something that connected with our souls, according to Aurelia Shimkus, the goal of art is not to entertain us, the goal of artists is to show the way to another world, which helps us to purify and regenerate our souls, as well as experience catharsis. She used an example of a piece of abstract music, which most people don’t understand, which proves the purpose of art is not to entertain us, because we can’t get amused by that music, we have to deeply understand the knowledge of that music and know the emotion as well as the message behind it. Jessica Herrington gives a lot of examples of knowledge in the art. For example, she uses Ai Weiwei’s work to explain the moral knowledge we can get in art. Moral knowledge is conveyed by looking at his work, we can have the sense to know about corruption and human right.
One counter-argument could be some people think of art as entertainment. If one looks at a piece of artwork, they might feel released and purified in his heart from that because he is pushed too much and stressed from daily life. In that way, people can claim that art provides them with happiness and reduce their pressure. Some people don’t want to put time and effort into art, so they won’t understand art fully, then it is hard for them to understand the knowledge in art. Meanwhile, they can appreciate the beauty and aesthetic part of art.
Reading about pseudoscience
Video and the demarcation problem
Sample TOK writing (NOT what I expect from your blog post–just an example of TOK writing)
It is unsurprising when we hear that experts in Art can’t always agree what ‘is’ and ‘is not’ Art. We might say that the distinction between what ‘is’, and what ‘is not’ art, is not always clear.
Similar to the problem of defining art, the distinction between science and pseudoscience is equally unclear.
Evaluate this claim.
Notice that the question of whether or not there is a clear distinction between science and pseudoscience is a knowledge question. In answering it, be sure to explore arguments and counter arguments. At the end of your response, attempt to demonstrate why the answer matters in real life.
Find a Real Life Situation (RLS) and…
Articulate the ‘real life level’ claim(s) being made
Explain what makes your TOK radar go off (2nd order)
Articulate a relevant KQ
Explain why answering the KQ is relevant to the RLS
Provide an example of another RLS that the KQ can apply to
Review Occam’s Razor: HERE (mandatory)
Reading from Chapter: HERE (mandatory)
Suggested reading: HERE (optional)
How can scientists decide between competing hypotheses?
Develop your response with specific examples and counter arguments.
In terms of counter-arguments here, you are not likely going to present ‘yes vs. no’ arguments, but are more likely to demonstrate how one or more of the possible criteria for choosing between hypotheses are not completely satisfactory or at least problematic.
Scientists decide between competing hypotheses through the way of Occam’s Razor, which is a problem-solving principle that if there are two possible ways to explain some phenomenon, one assumes the existence of many things and the other assumes the existence of a few things, as long as both of the hypothesis have the equal assumption, we should believe the fewer things hypothesis more. The example that is used in the THUNK video is a sequence of genetic code, we tend to believe the easier one. According to maximum parsimony, which is a good theory there are good statistical justifications for using Occam’s Razor, if you have to make fewer assumptions to achieve the same explanatory power with a theory, then you are less likely to make an error, so it’s less likely to get the wrong conclusion. However, by using Occam’s Razor, there is the possibility to get a totally wrong conclusion. Using the genetic code as the example again, two totally unrelated species will happen to get the same nucleotide in their DNA. That is why scientists need to use a few cross-references to verify their hypothesis.
Read each of these two articles and articulate 3-4 explicit and implicit claims for each of them: