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Chapter 2

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Department
Geography
Course
Geography 2153A/B
Professor
Jamie Baxter
Semester
Fall

Description
Chapter 2: Environmental Science: Science, Worldviews, & Ethics SCIENCE AND THE ENVIRONMENT -environmental decision making reflects the interactions of society, politics, culture, economics, and values, as well as scientific information SCIENCE: a process used to investigate the world around us – a systematic attempt to understand the universe HYPOTHESIS: explanation that can be accepted until disproved – based on assumptions -scientists make five basic assumptions about the natural world: (1) people can understand the patterns of events in the natural world through careful observation ad analysis; (2) the same rules or patterns of behaviour that describe events in the natural world apple throughout the universe; (3) science is based on inductive reasoning that begins with specific observations of, and extends to generalizations about the natural world; (4) these generalizations can be subjected to tests that try to disprove them – if no such test can be devised, then a generalization still cannot be treated as a scientific statement; (5) existing scientific theories can be disproved by new evidence, but science can never provide absolute proof of the truth of its theories -scientists use two kinds of reasoning: inductive and deductive DEDUCTIVE REASONING: when scientists draw conclusions about their observations of the natural world by means of logical reasoning INDUCTIVE REASONING: when a scientist draws a general conclusion based on a limited set of observations PROBABILITY: one way scientists express how certain or uncertain they are about the quality of their observations and how confident they are in their predictions CORRELATION: the degree to which one variable is related to another variable WHAT IS SCIENCE? -science is a process used to investigate the world around us – a systematic attempt to understand the universe -scientists have their own values, interests, and cultural backgrounds that make influence their results -modern science does not deal with metaphysical questions or with questions that are answered by morals or values but rather with things that are observable and testable -scientists must be able to make observations from which they develop a hypothesis HYPOTHESIS: an explanation based on certain assumptions that scientists make about the world, it can be accepted until it is disproved -scientists make five basic assumptions: (1) people can understand the patterns of events in the natural world through careful observation and analysis; (2) the same rules or patterns of behaviour that describe events in the natural world apply throughout the universe; (3) science is based on inductive reasoning that begins with specific observations of and extends to generalizations about the natural world; (4) these generalizations can be subjected to tests that try to disprove them – if no test can be devised then a generalization still cannot be treated as a scientific statement; and (5) existing scientific theories can be disproved by new evidence, but science can never provide absolute proof of the truth of its theories -scientists uses two kinds of reasoning: INDUCTIVE and DEDUCTIVE DEDUCTIVE REASONING: when scientists draw conclusions about their observations of the natural world by means of logical reasoning – the conclusion flows from definitions and assumptions – does not require that the premises be only but that the reasoning be logical INDUCTIVE REASONING: when a scientist draws a general conclusion based on a limited set of observations – states only what is usually true – produces new knowledge but is error prone PROBABILITY: how scientists express how certain or uncertain they are about the quality of their observations and how confident they are in their predictions CORRELATION: describes the degree to which one variable is related to another variable -uncertainties can never be completely eliminated -scientists provide an estimate of the uncertainty associated with their measurements STATISTICAL SIGNIFICANCE: describes the probability of whether or not the event or relationship has a greater potential to occur with more frequency than simple random chance STANDARD ERROR: show us the degree to which results vary from sample to sample and are used to help determine whether errors are random or systematic THE METHODS OF SCIENCE OBSERVATIONS: fundamental basis of science – made through our five senses or instruments FACT: scientists check for accuracy by comparing their observations with those made by many other scientists and then when all or most of them agree that this observation is true and it becomes a fact -observations and facts provide a basis for INFERENCES which are conclusions derived either by logical reasoning from premises and/or evidence, or by insight or analogy based on evidence -before inferences can be accepted as facts, they must be tested and they must be repeatable -when an inference is tested, it becomes a hypothesis -to test a hypothesis, a scientist will want to run a controlled experiment -independent variable is on the x-axis -dependent variable is on the y-axis CONTROLLED EXPERIMENT: designed to test the effects of independent variables on a dependent variable by changing only one independent variable at a time OPERATIONAL DEFINITIONS: tell scientists what to look for or what to do in order to carry out the measurement, construction, or manipulation of variables QUANTATIVE DATA: numerical QUALITATIVE DATA: non-numerical -all models may be revised or replaced as knowledge increases and currently accepted hypotheses are modified in light of new understanding THEORIES: models that offer broadly conceived, logically coherent, and well supported concepts MISUNDERSTANDINGS ABOUT SCIENCE -while scientists may disprove things, they cannot establish absolute truth or proof -terms “proved scientifically” is an inaccurate use of scientific language THEORY: greatest achievement in science; after considerable debate, speculation, and sometimes controversy that scientists develop theories based on their consensus about explanations of phenomena -science is not value-free -scientists are influenced by their social environment SCIENTIFIC METHOD: series of steps scientists take to carry out their research -inductive reasoning, accidental discoveries, creativity, and flashes of insight play roles in advancing knowledge and understanding COMMON STEPS IN THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD: -(1): observe and develop a question about your observations -(2): develop a hypothesis – a tentative answer to the question -(3): design a controlled experiment or model defining independent and dependent variables -(4): collect data and record it in an organized manner -(5): interpret the data -(6): draw a conclusion from the data -(7): compare your conclusions with your hypothesis to determine whether your results support or disprove your hypothesis -(8): if you accept your hypothesis, conduct further tests to support it -(9): if you reject your hypothesis, make additional observations and construct a new hypothesis -the more complex a system or problem ism the less certain is the hypothesis, models, and theories used to explain it ENVIRONMENTAL DECISION MAKING STEPS IN ENVIRONMENTAL DECISION MAKING: -(1): state the issue as clearly and concisely as possible -(2): research the issue, gathering pertinent social and scientific data and information -(3): identify all possible courses of actions (including alternatives developed through public participation processes) -(4): predict the outcome of each course of action with reference to the positive and negative consequences of each -(5): predict the probability of occurrence of each course of action -(6): evaluate the alternatives and choose the most sustainable one (followed by implementation) -it is essential to develop sound, critically evaluated approached to environmental decisions that include sustainability principles and that reflect a commitment to environm
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