We all want to know the future, but what is the best way to predict what will happen? Assuming we don’t have a crystal ball or a time machine, we have to find patterns in the available information and use that make our best, informed guess. This is what scientists do. There is a spectrum … Continue reading Oracles and Science: The Trouble with Predictions
In an earlier post I contrasted induction and deduction while suggesting that induction is the currently favored term used in science. However, I also suggested that the two philosophies can be used in concert with one another. Indeed, as much as one can argue about the virtues of one philosophy or the other, science actually advances … Continue reading The Cycle of Science
The scientific discipline of geography has taken on many important topics over the course of its history. From locating natural resources, to understanding the intricacies of human cultures in diverse locations, to predicting climate change and its impacts on society, geography has helped us better understand our world. Students in grade schools are taught basic … Continue reading Why Geography?
Sherlock Holmes often talks about ‘deductive reasoning’, but was he really using deduction or induction. Although by definition these two approaches appear to be opposites, in practice, the differences between the two can be subtle. A simplified contrast between deductive and inductive reasoning is that deduction is reasoning from the top down and induction is … Continue reading Is It ‘Deduction’ or ‘Induction’, My Dear Watson?
This is a common question addressing a popular misconception about how science classifies the knowledge that it has accumulated. The levels of hypothesis to theory to law often get interpreted as classes of confidence. However, this is not really right. The missing piece here is spatial scale! It isn’t easy to draw the line for … Continue reading Is It a Scientific Theory or Hypothesis?
It can be hard to match what we learned about the scientific method in school with the scientific literature being published. There are a variety of reasons for this, but generally it is an issue of what is practical (especially within the time frames that sources of funding expect results). Because the classic description of … Continue reading The Scientific Method: Does Anybody Really Use It?
For my first blog post, it makes sense to start with the basics. And one of the most fundamental concepts for a researcher to establish is the definition of science. As a starting point, let’s begin with the definition from the Oxford dictionary (which is very similar to definitions found elsewhere): def. Science – the intellectual and … Continue reading What is Science?