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Chapter 1

Chapter 1 Textbook Notes

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Anna Nagy

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Chapter 1
The Scientific Approach
The Limitations of Intuition of Authority
oWhen you rely on intuition, you accept unquestioningly what your own
personal judgement or a single story about one persons experience tells you
about the world
oThe intuitive approach involves finding an explanation for our own behaviour
or the behaviour of others
E.g. you might develop an explanation for why you keep having
conflicts w/ a co-worker, such as that other person wants my job
oOther times, intuition is used to explain intriguing events that you observe,
as in the case of concluding that adoption increases the chances of conception
among couples having difficulty conceiving a child
oA problem w/ intuition is that numerous cognitive and motivational biases
affect our perceptions, and so we draw wrong conclusions about cause and
oGilovich points out that there is in fact no relationship b/w adoption and
subsequent pregnancy, according to scientific research
So why do we hold this belief?
B/c of a cognitive bias called illusory correlation that occurs
when we focus on two events that stand out and occur together
When an adoption is closely followed by a pregnancy, our
attention is drawn to the situation, and we are biased to
conclude that there must be a causal connection
oA scientific approach requires much more evidence before conclusions can be
oAristotle was concerned w/ the factors associated w/ persuasion or attitude
oHe argued that we are more likely to be persuaded by a speaker who seems
prestigious, trustworthy, and respectable than by one who lacks such
oStatements may not be true, the scientific approach rejects the notion that
one can accept on faith the statements of any authority
Skepticism, Science, and the Empirical Approach
oScientific skepticism means that ideas must be evaluated on the basis of
careful logic and results from scientific investigations
oThe fundamental characteristic of the scientific method is empiricism
knowledge is based on observations
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oGoodstine describes an evolved theory of science that defines the
characteristics of scientific inquiry
Observations accurately reported to others
Others can replicate the methods used an obtain the same
Fabricating data is inherently unethical and dealt w/ by strong
Search for discovery and verification of ideas
They develop theories, argue that existing data support their
theories, and conduct research that can increase our confidence
that the theories are correct
Open exchange and competition among ideas
Research can be conducted to test any idea that is advanced
Supporters of the idea and those who disagree w/ the idea can
report their research findings and these can be evaluated by
Some ideas, even some very good ideas, may prove to be false
Good scientific ideas are testable
They can be supported or they can be falsified by data
Peer review of research
Peer review the process of judging the scientific merit of
research through review by peers of the researcherother
scientist w/ the expertise to evaluate the research
This review process ensures that research w/ major flaws wont
become part of the scientific literature
Integrating Intuition, Skepticism, and Authority
oThe advantage of the scientific approach is that it provides an objective set of
rules for gathering, evaluating, and reporting information. It is an open
system that allows ideas to be accepted or refuted by others.
oAuthority and intuition are not unimportant. Scientists often rely on
intuition and assertion of authorities for ideas for research, and there is
nothing wrong with accepting the statements of authority (ie putting blind
faith in religion) as long as we do not take them as scientific facts.
oThere is nothing wrong with presenting opinions as long as they are not
presented as facts, however, we should ask whether the idea can be tested or
if evidence exists to support it.
oWhen someone claims to be a scientist, should we be more willing to accept
what they say? Look at the credentials of the individual and the reputation of
the institution represented by the person or the researchers funding source.
oBe aware of pseudoscientists. Characteristics of pseudoscientists are
Hypothesis generated are typically not testable
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