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POL322 Lecture #2.docx

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Political Science

09/16/13 POL322 Lecture #2 How to Study Politics Scientifically What do we study? - not just facts and historical cases in Canadian politics, foreign countries or international relations - but importantly the scientific knowledge of political phenomena, generalizable beyond specific cases Science = a systematic method of knowledge creation - main goal is to develop our knowledge of the causal process behind various pholitical phenomena - science is arguable the most successful way to obtain and refine knowledge of the nature and our society Scientific Method Theory: a tentative conjecture about the causes of some phenomenon of interest Hypothesis: a theory based statement about a relationship that we expect to observe Empirical Test/Analysis: a process in which scientists evaluate collected evidence systematically to make a judgment of whether the evidence favours their hypothesis Theory - Dependent variable (Y) — a phenomenon of interest. o the value of Y will depend on the value X - Independent variable (X) (or Explanatory Variable) — the cause/factor of the phenomenon. - Explanation/mechasnism/process that links your independent and dependent variables. - A hypothesis from the theory is observable in the real world Null Hypothesis & Falsifiability: we should know in advance what kind of evidence would defuse our evidence and theory Empirical Test/Analysis - we test our hypothesis based on actual observations of the rule world Process of Producing Scientific Knowledge 09/16/13 Alternative Hypothesis: used by another indicator - We have tested the theory of economic voting using aggregate data (= Observations are aggregated at macro level). - What’s behind the aggregate data is individual voter’s vote choice. - We can also test the same theory using individual data (=Survey of individual voters). - Always tentative, no way knowing the truth. Scientific Knowledge - It is always tentative — we remain open to the possibility that there is still a test out there that will provide evidence that makes us lose confidence in that theory. - Our scientific theory is never proven and we should always be willing to consider new evidence - Our theory should be falsifiable — we should know when (or with what evid
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