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WOU GS 311 - The Nature of Science and Scientific Inquiry

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What is Science?The Nature of ScienceHypothesesScientific LawsScientific TheoriesScientific InquiryDescriptive StudiesCorrelational StudiesExperimental StudiesWho is a scientist?Slide 11Slide 12Slide 13Slide 14Slide 15Slide 16Slide 17Science: A Human EndeavorWhat is Science?The Nature of Science and Scientific InquiryThe Nature of Science•Science is based on observations and inferences about the natural world (empirical evidence).•Science is a creative human endeavor that is socially embedded.•Scientific knowledge is always tentative (subject to change with new knowledge.•Laws and theories are the products of science.Hypotheses•An hypothesis is a statement that predicts the outcome of an experiment.•An hypothesis may be stated as a null hypothesis; that is, the hypothesis may predict no change.•Hypotheses are tested by scientific inquiry.•Tested hypotheses help build scientific knowledge.Scientific Laws•A scientific law is a description of a natural phenomenon.•Laws are based on empirical evidence.•Examples:•Mendel’s laws of inheritance.•The Hardy-Weinberg Law of population genetics.•Laws may change with new knowledge.Scientific Theories•A scientific theory is an explanation of a natural phenomenon.•Theories are based on empirical evidence.•Examples:•The theory of natural selection.•Cell theory.•Theories may change with new knowledgeScientific Inquiry•Scientific inquiry is the process that results in building scientific knowledge.•There are three main types of inquiry (scientific studies):•Descriptive•Correlational•ExperimentalDescriptive Studies•Descriptive studies describe the object of study in detail.•Characteristic of young sciences.•Some sciences, such as Astronomy and Taxonomy, rely almost entirely on descriptive studies.Correlational Studies•Correlational studies describe two events that occur at the same time, and look for a relationship between the two.•Many health studies are correlational: they use large databases of health information, and try to answer questions when an experiment would be unethical.•However, a correlation does not prove a cause.Experimental Studies•Experimental studies involve setting up control and experimental groups in order to the effects of one variable on another.•Experiments can be used to determine cause.•Experiments are used to test hypotheses (not to “prove” them).Who is a scientist?Who is a scientist?EcologistsWho is a scientist?MicrobiologistsWho is a scientist?TaxonomistsWho is a scientist?GeneticistsWho is a scientist?BotanistsWho is a scientist?MolecularBiologistsWho is a scientist?ZoologistsScience: A Human


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