Science versus Social Science

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by carbonmotion, Jan 24, 2007.

  1. carbonmotion macrumors 6502a

    carbonmotion

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    #1
    I've noticed that although some of my science-people friends use the scientific method everyday, they don't really use any logical/ rational approach to navigating their lives. Ranging from politics to personal life to product identity, they tend to be very passionate, biased,and prone to influence from cult of personalities. My lawschool and indeed myself, tend to approach those same situations with more logic and analysis. I think part of this could be personal bias, but maybe there's some kernel of truth?? Whatdda ya think?
     
  2. smueboy macrumors 6502a

    smueboy

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    #2
    A scientist needs to be very adaptive and flexible when approaching situations (professionally that is), whereas a lawer may approach things more rigidly, having learnt to follow strict rules and the letter of the law... These can easily flow into life.

    :)
     
  3. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor

    WildCowboy

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    #3
    I don't know...I find myself applying logical and rational approaches to both work and life. Almost too much so.
     
  4. smueboy macrumors 6502a

    smueboy

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    #4
    Seems like the world could do with a bit more of that ;)
     
  5. MACDRIVE macrumors 68000

    MACDRIVE

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  6. Spritey macrumors regular

    Spritey

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    #6
    I actually just covered something that could be applicable to this. It's called 'learning styles', which is based on experiential learning theory. People develop preferred styles, or ways of learning and basically how you approach problems (and life) in general. "Effective learners rely on four different learning modes: concrete experience (CE), reflective observation (RO), abstract conceptualization (AC) and active experimentation (AE).

    CE: (feeling) involve themselves fully and openly, and without bias in new experiences
    RO: (watching) reflect on and observe these experiences from many perspectives
    AC: (thinking) able to create concepts that integrate their observations into logically sound theories
    AE: (doing) able to use these theories to make decisions and solve problems

    Anyway, you can do a test and see what kind of learning style you have (i'm sure there's a bunch online). Your learning style usually falls in one of these 4 categories: Assimilator, diverger, converger and accomodator. If you pay attention when working in groups etc. you can sometimes pick out what kind of learning styles people have. It's kinda cool:cool: . Some people falls dead in the middle though, so...

    Oh, and I found a test here: http://www.geocities.com/athens/forum/1650/qlearningstyle.html

    I've taken this test and one in class; both ended up with me being an assimilator.:rolleyes:

    The text below is from http://www.coe.iup.edu/rjl/instruction/cm150/selfinterpretation/kolb.htm


    The CONVERGER's dominant learning abilities are Abstract Conceptualization (AC) and Active Experimentation (AE). This person's greatest strength lies in the practical application of ideas. A person with this style seems to do best in those situations like conventional intelligence tests where there is a single correct answer or solution to a question or problem. This person's knowledge is organized in such a way that through hypothetical-deductive reasoning this person can focus it on specific problems. Research on this style of learning shows that Converger's are relatively unemotional, preferring to deal with things rather than people. They tend to have narrow technical interests, and choose to specialize in the physical sciences. This learning style is characteristic of many engineers.

    The DIVERGER has the opposite learning strengths of the converger. This person is best at Concrete Experience (CE) and Reflective Observation (RO). This person's greatest strength lies in imaginative ability. This person excels in the ability to view concrete situations from many perspectives. We have labled this style Diverger because a person with this style performs better in situations that call for generation of ideas such as a "brainstorming" idea session. Research shows that Divergers are interested in people and tend to be imaginative and emotional. They have broad cultural interests and tend to specialize in the arts. This style is characteristic of individuals from humanities and liberal arts backgrounds. Counselors, organization development specialists and personnel managers tend to be characterized by this learning style.

    The ASSIMILATOR's dominant learning abilities are Abstract Conceptualization (AC) and Reflective Observation (RO). This person's greatest strength lies in the ability to create theoretical models. This person excels in inductive reasoning and in assimilating disparate observations into an integrated explanation. This person, like the converger, is less interested in people and more concerned with abstract concepts, but is less concerned with the practical use of theories. For this person it is more important that the theory be logically sound and precise; in a situation where a theory or plan does not fit the "facts," the Assimilator would be likely to disregard or re-examine the facts. As a result, this learning style is more characteristic of the basic sciences and mathematics rather than the applied sciences. In organizations this learning style is found most often in the research and planning departments.

    The ACCOMMODATOR has the opposite learning strengths of the Asssimilator. This person is best at Concrete Experience (CE) and Active Experimentation (AE). This person's greatest strength lies in doing things in carrying out plans and experiments and involving oneself in new experiences. This person tends to be more of a risk-taker than people with the other three learning styles. We have labeled this person "Accomodator" because this person tends to excel in those situations where one must adapt oneself to specific immediate circumstances. In situations where a theory or plan does not fit the "facts," this person will most likely discard the plan or theory. This person tends to solve problems in an intuitive trial and error manner, relying heavily on other people for information rather than on one's own analytic ability. The Accomodator is at ease with people but is sometimes seen as impatient and "pushy." This person's educational background is often in technical or practical fields such as business. In organizations people with this learning style are found in "action-oriented" jobs often in marketing or sales."

    Remember not to stereotype. I'm sure accomodators make great researchers too..
     
  7. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #7
    Know any good (scholarly) review articles on this topic? I'm really interested, because it could definitely be useful in terms of communicating learning recommendations to individuals with learning disabilities to consider both their LD and their overall learning style.
     
  8. Legolamb macrumors 6502a

    Legolamb

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    #8
    That's why the "learning styles" taxonomies fail. In the real world, complex practices may require adapting strategies in learning and solving problems to different situations. I've researched artists and animators who have to be extremely logical and mathematical at times, and scientists who take leaps of creative faith before they settle on rigorous methods to prove their points. The scientific method may be rational; scientists do not have to be.
     
  9. Spritey macrumors regular

    Spritey

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    #9
    Learning Style Inventory by David A. Kolb

    In my textbook, and the links I posted, a guy called David A. Kolb is cited (Learning Style Inventory). However, it's from 1976, so I'm sure there are more recent theories and research that builds on his work. If you make a trip to the library I'm sure you'll at least find books. I'm also in university still, so I'm spoiled with all these great databases. Dont know if you have access to ProQuest or something similar which also allows you to just search for scholary articles and peer reviewed.

    I'm actually learning this for my Organizational Behavior class (management...), so you can be more aware of your group members and your coworkers' learning styles and perhaps better delegate group assignments etc. knowing that for instance people who are divergers *tend* to be paralyzed by alternatives and have a difficulty making decision, it would perhaps be good to pair him/her up with a converger, whose strenghts lie in decision making.

    But yeah, I agre it's very easy to assign people to a box, and assume that all accomodators will get things done. BUT if you use it as a guideline, and also observe what's going on it can be useful when you play to people's strenghts (and weaknesses). I.e. accomodators are supposed to be the leaders, gettings things done, etc. but while working in teams you can discover that a diverger makes a better leader because of their ability to understand people, whereas the accomodator has no leadership skills at all.

    Like mentioned, I've taken two different tests and both times I was an assimilator. If you plot your score on this learning style grid, you can see if you're an outlier (really strong learning style), or maybe you're more towards the centre (mix of all four). I personally definitely recognize myself as an assimilator, but of course there are certain aspects of the other catergories that I would assign myself. But overall, I'm definitely an assimilator.

    I've copied this from my book, which also talks a little bit about how to develop learning skills for the various styles: (Organizational Behavior - An Experiential Approach by Joyce S. Osland, David A. Kolb and Irwin M. Rubin).

    ACCOMODATOR:
    Strenghts:
    • Getting things done
    • leadership
    • risk taking
    Excess
    • Trivial improvements
    • meaningless activity
    Deficiency
    • work not completed on time
    • impractical plans
    • not directed to goals

    To develop accomodator learning skills:
    • committing yourself to objectives
    • seeking new opportunities
    • influencing and leading others
    • being personally involved
    • dealing with people

    DIVERGER

    Strengths
    • imaginative ability
    • understanding people
    • recognizing problems
    • brainstorming
    Excess
    • paralyzed by alternatives
    • can't make decisions

    Deficiency:
    • lack of ideas
    • can't recognize problems and opportunities

    To develop Diverger learning skills:
    • being sensitive to people's feelings
    • being sensitive to values
    • listening with an open mind
    • gathering information
    • imagining the implications of uncertain situations

    CONVERGER

    Strengths
    • problem solving
    • decision making
    • deductive reasoning
    • defining problems
    Excess
    • solving the wrong problems
    • hasty decision making
    Deficiency
    • lack of focus
    • no testing of ideas or theories
    • scattered thoughts

    To develop converger learning skills, practice:
    • creating new ways of thinking and doing
    • experimenting with new ideas
    • choosing the best solution
    • setting goals
    • making decisions

    ASSIMILATOR

    Strengths
    • planning
    • creating logical problems
    • defining problems
    • developing theories
    Excess
    • castles in the air
    • no practical application
    Deficiency
    • unable to learn from mistakes
    • no sound basis for work
    • no systematic approach

    To develop assimilator learning skills, practice:
    • organizing information
    • building conceptual models
    • testing theories and ideas
    • designing experiments
    • analyzing quantitative data
     
  10. Spritey macrumors regular

    Spritey

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    #10
    Nope, generalization is bad, but can be used as a helpful tool to understanding

    True, but IN GENERAL I personally feel that the assimilator category pretty much captures how I approach problems. But yeah, sometimes it doesn't do it, and I have to try a more practical approach to things.

    But like I mentioned in the above post, knowing your and other people's learning style can potentially help you play to their and your own strengths. Also, you have to keep in mind that some people are dead in the middle between all four, and most people are in fact close to the middle.

    We filled out the grid in my class with about 30 ppl, and most people were around the center, whereas a couple of people were extreme outliers. Most of people agreed with the result, while other members didn't at all. Another thing to keep in mind is that unless you have one specific really strong learning style, is that the tests will show different results depending on your mood that day. If you're a converger (who *generally* likes to work alone) and you had an awesome and fun time with your group a few hours before taking a test, you might end up as being a diverger simply because on that particular day you really ''like'' people and group work.
     
  11. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #11
    See... that's the thing. This is not peer-reviewed literature. And it's probably not quantitatively conclusive either. That's okay... but this kind of work, as others have mentioned, tends to be long on theory and short on confirmatory evidence. You can make up any complicated and good-sounding taxonomy you want, but it's an entirely different matter to demonstrate that it means anything. Especially when you throw around words like accommodation and assimilation that most cognitive and neuropsychologists consider to be present in human (and primate) learning for all individuals.

    But maybe I will try to look it up in psycarticles when I get a chance.

    Thanks!
     
  12. lOUDsCREAMEr macrumors regular

    lOUDsCREAMEr

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  13. thedude110 macrumors 68020

    thedude110

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    #13
    I was under the impression that, back in the day, social science adopted a "sciencey" approach in order to lend validity to what was otherwise perceived as a subjective practice?

    Now, I'm all for subjectivity, and I think most science is pretty damn arbitrary, anyway (*looks over shoulder for sciencey wife*). But isn't a strict, scientific approach to "social studies" just formalism on crack?
     
  14. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #14
    Mmmm, no, I think that's unfair. Social science as a whole is disjointed in part because it coalesced from multiple directions. All science historically in the west is a diversification and granulization of philosophy. For instance, it's true that mathematics and physics and to some extent even chemistry broke apart from philosophy earlier than psychology. But when psychology did break apart, it was always a quantitative, "scientific" endeavor inasmuch as anything else in science is. The "birth" of psychology is often considered to be the lab Wundt founded... that work isn't clearly less scientific than any "hard" science, just because it investigates human behavior rather than a lower level of complexity. Other kinds of social science became "fields" of study at different times, and for different reason. And even though they are in many ways branches of philosophy, these branches also circle back and tend to to influence each other in complex ways.

    Science ... all science ... is arbitrary in very specific ways. It is arbitrary in what questions it chooses to ask and in what directions it chooses to focus. This can lead any kind of science down erroneous paths... from alchemy to the cosmological constant to phrenology. But it is not really arbitrary in its insistence that valid theories make correct predictions. They either do or they do not. Those predictions may be ultimately uninformative, but all (good) science agrees upon this basic idea.
     
  15. smueboy macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    Due largely to due funding opportunities! You work on what you can get funded to work on - which depends a lot on current policy.
     
  16. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #16
    This is very fair... for instance, doing credible research on human sexuality is so ridiculous in the US environment.... But then also, I think it's important to admit that all science is non-objective in a motivational sense -- scientists are motivated individuals with their own personal and professional agendas like anyone else. They get blinded by the bias their beliefs impose on their exploration like anyone else. That's not necessarily a bad thing -- it can be their strength, as well. But any good science of the scientist has to begin with the premise that scientists are human beings who operate according to the psychological principles of information processing and motivation/emotion that describe any other human beings.
     
  17. smueboy macrumors 6502a

    smueboy

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    #17
    Too true - people have their own motivation and bias that drives what they work on. This is great when it leads to a discovery fueled by ideas that may or may not have been believed by any peers. The down-side of course being bias' that affect the peer review process of obtaining funding or granting publication. But this is human nature and affects all of the sciences.
     
  18. FleurDuMal macrumors 68000

    FleurDuMal

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    #18
    It could be because the very foundation of all natural sciences - the 'big bang' - is built upon blind faith as much as any other form of 'knowledge' could be.
     
  19. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #19
    Mmmm, there isn't a very meaningful way in which all science is based on the big bang theory. There are fundamental common assumptions in all physical sciences. They are more along the lines of the idea that a single set of laws that can be expressed in a time and space invariant fashion describe all phenomena. That is a complete and utter assumption.

    But the big bang itself does not in any real way impact how people do cognitive neuroscience or protein chemistry.

    And on the other hand, too, it's not based on blind faith. It's a hypothesis that better describes the existing data than any other alternative simpler hypothesis. Very similarly, the neodarwinian theories that govern evolution are not blind faith -- they were generated in a motivational and subjective process that certainly could have had other outcomes -- but as hypotheses, they are merely theories which better explain existing data than any alternate of equal or greater simplicity.
     
  20. smueboy macrumors 6502a

    smueboy

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    #20
    I hardly think that the big bang plays any role in the day to day work for any scientist unless that is their field of study. Darwins revolutionary theories for instance came long before the big bang theory, so clearly were not based on such a foundation. Science, for most, is based on facts, irrespective whether one believes in the big bang etc.
     
  21. Apemanblues macrumors regular

    Apemanblues

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    #21
    "Faith" generally means believing in something when there is no evidence (and in some cases in spite of contradicting evidence). Big Bang theory does not fit into that category because it is the theory that best fits the available evidence.
     

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