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SOAN 2120 Lecture Notes - Hideki Matsutake, Scientific Method, Nomothetic

Sociology and Anthropology
Course Code
SOAN 2120
Scott Schau

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SOAN*2120 Week 1 LEC 3
Asia Barclay
Thursday, January 11, 2013
Science IS:
- A set of logical and empirical methods (e.g. drawing inferences or deductions from
- Systematic observation, experimentation, rigorous methodology
- Replication
- Impersonal/objective
- Epistemology: the science of knowing
Drawing from last class: therefore, a scientist is (obviously...) not determined by how they
look, but rather how they behave
We may feel like we’re doing something scientific, but in reality we may just be making
Sound logic system in place + proper observations
This way, we can categorize/measure things properly to arrive at proper conclusions
Three major aspects to social sciences:
1. Theory We begin with a theory to be tested
2. Data Collection We go out and take a measurement
3. Data Analysis We analyze the data we’ve collected
Pseudoscience IS:
- A set of ideas based on theories put forth as scientific when they are not
- Based on authority or sacred text, myths, legends

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- Can’t be tested; illogical reasoning
- Often supported by selective use of anecdotes and intuition
Quantitative Approaches
- Objective verifiable, controlled observations and precise communications
- Deductive process beginning with a general theory + a theoretical expected pattern
- We conduct a study that will test whether the expected pattern occurs
- We come up with a conclusion then test if it is correct (i.e. observe the sun comes up
every morning for a month, then conclude that it will come up every day)
Qualitative Approaches
- Explanations and descriptions
- Inductive process
- From particular to a general statement
- Painstaking analysis of documents
- Lengthy participation in a group
- We observe, then come up with a conclusion
Nomothetic Explanations
- Explains a case of situations rather than a single one
- Causal variables
- Probabilistic in nature
- Naming a few considerations seldom provides a complete explanation
- Specific aspect of behaviour
- Aggregate data (a lot of information being brought into a case; i.e. compiling the median,
the mode, the mean)
Idiographic Explanations
- Meaning ―unique‖
- Inductive (more qualitative) and Deductive (more quantitative) Theory
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