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Chapter 1


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BIOL 1500
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BIOL 1500 CHAPTER ONE {SCIENTIFIC THINKING} {May2010} D EFINITIONS… {Science} is not simply a body of knowledge or a list of facts to be remembered. It is an intellectual activity, encompassing observation, description, experimentation, and explanation of natural phenomena. {Biology} is the study of living things. The four questions in biology:  What is the chemical and physical basis for life and its maintenance?  How do organisms use genetic information to build themselves and to reproduce?  What are the diverse forms that life on earth takes and how has that diversity arisen?  How do organisms interact with each other and with their environment? {Scientific literacy} is a general, fact based understanding of the basics of biology and other sciences. {Biological literacy} is the ability to use the process of scientific inquiry to think creatively about real-world issues that have a biological component, communicate these thoughts to others, and integrate these ideas into your decision making. {Superstition} is the irrational belief that actions that are not logically related to a course of events can influence its outcome. {Scientific method} Beginning with someone observing a phenomenon and proposing an explanation for it, this process of examination and discovery is referred to as the scientific method. {Empirical} is based on experience and observations that are rational, testable, and repeatable. The empirical nature of the scientific approach makes it self-correctingincorrect ideas are discarded in favour of more accurate explanations. {Hypothesis} is based around observations; proposed explanation for observed phenomena. {Critical experiment} is an experiment that makes it possible to decisively determine whether a particular hypothesis is correct. BIOL 1500 CHAPTER ONE {SCIENTIFIC THINKING} {May2010} {Placebo} inactive substance used in controlled experiments to test the effectiveness of another substance; the treatment group receives the substance being tested, the control group receives the placebo {Theory} is an explanatory hypothesis for natural phenomena that is exceptionally well supported by the empirical data {Placebo effect} the frequently observed, poorly understood phenomenon, in which people respond favourably to any treatment, regardless of whether it was the treatment, or sugar pill received. {Blind & double blind experimental design) blind design-in which the experimental subjects do not know which treatment (if any) they are receiving. Double blind design-neither the subjects nor the experimenter know which treatment (if any) they are receiving. {Randomized} subjects are randomly assigned into experimental and control groups. In this way, researchers and subjects have no influence on the composition of the control and treatment groups {Statistics} a set of analytical and mathematical tools designed to help researchers gain understanding from the data they gather {Positive correlation} when one variable increases, so does the other. {Pseudoscience} individuals make scientific sounding claims that are not supported by trustworthy methodical scientific studies {Anecdotal observations} based on only one or a few observations, people conclude that there is or is not a link between two things C HAPTER NOTES … The scientific method is an adaptable process that includes many different methods. It is not a single pathway that is always rigidly followed from start to finish. 1. Make observations  Scientific study always begins with observations. BIOL 1500 CHAPTER ONE {SCIENTIFIC THINKING} {May2010}  During this stage interesting patterns or cause-and-effect relationships are searched for “Does taking Echinacea reduce the intensity or duration of the common cold?” 2. Formulate a hypothesis  Undergoes many amendments as data comes in  Summarizes some preliminary observations into a possible explanation for what we have observed: the hypothesis  Hypotheses must accomplish two things, 1) clearly establish mutually exclusive alternative explanations for a phenomenon, must be clear that if the proposed explanation is not supported by evidence, a different hypothesis is a more likely explanation. And 2) must generate testable predictions  A common hypothesis form is a null hypothesis, stating the lack of a relationship between two factors.  It is impossible to prove a hypothesis is absolutely and permanently true: all evidence does not rule out the possibility that some future evidence or observation might show the hypothesis is untrue. “Echinacea reduces the duration and severity of the symptoms of the common cold.” “Echinacea has no effect on the duration or severity of the symptoms of the common cold” 3. Devise a testable solution  For a hypothesis to be useful, it must generate a prediction  Good hypothesis helps us make predictions about novel situations. The goal is to propose a situation that will give a particular outcome if your hypothesis is true, but will give a different outcome if your hypothesis is not true.  Use if and then statements Hypothesis: “Echinacea reduces the duration and severity of the common cold.” Prediction: “If Echinacea reduces the duration and severity of the symptoms of the common cold, then individuals taking Echinacea should get sick less frequently than those not taking it, and their illness should not last as long.” 4. Conduct a critical experiment  Once a hypothesis generates a testable prediction, we conduct a critical experiment.  If the hypothesis being tested is not true, we will make observations that compel us to reject that hypothesis “The critical experiment for the Echinacea hypothesis as follows: 437 people who volunteered to be exposed were exposed to cold viruses through nasal drips. Seclusion followed for five days as doctors examined for presence of cold virus in nasal cavity. BIOL 1500 CHAPTER ONE {SCIENTIFIC THINKING} {May2010} 5. Draw conclusions, make revisions  Researchers look for patterns and relationships in the evidence they’ve gathered f
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