A guiding question for this discussion will be 'what is good science '?
The motivation for this week's discussion topic stems from Stephen Stearns' poignant lecture "The Logic of Science " which is available as a 45 minute YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzFweBDef2A), a 412 MB QuickTime video download (http://openmedia.yale.edu/projects/courses/spring09/eeb122/mov/eeb122_23_032309.mov), a 43 MB mp3 audio (http://openmedia.yale.edu/projects/courses/spring09/eeb122/mp3/eeb122_23_032309.mp3), or a 6800 word transcript (http://oyc.yale.edu/ecology-and-evolutionary-biology/principles-of-evolution-ecology-and-behavior/content/transcripts/transcript-23-the-logic-of-science). The discussion will focus on the issues addressed in the lecture. It is recommended that participants either watch, listen to, or read the lecture and bring their thoughts about it.
As always, the discussion will develop according to the interests and concerns of participants. I will prepare some thoughts to stimulate discussion on each of the following topics inspired by the lecture "The Logic of Science":
The Nature of the Scientific Enterprise Science and the big problem of epistemology Definitions of science (Aristotle, Buckminster Fuller, Kevin Kelly) Inference and David Hume The role of technology in knowledge acquisition Operational "truth" The limits of scientific knowledge The role of bias in scientific work (T.C. Chamberlin's views, etc) The mental fog inherent in the work of discovery The importance of detailed archival notebooks for one's science; the open research (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_research) movement The importance of good writing in science The Methods of Science The methods of tentative, adopted, and ruling explanations (theories) The method of the working hypothesis The method of multiple working hypotheses The method of strong inference?(John R. Platt) The role of falsifiability The contest of alternatives The role of descriptive science and other non-experimental sciences like astronomy, geology, paleontology or systematics Scientific revolutions: how they really happen; cautions The source of creativity The nature and role of theory and models The importance of multiple working models The method of transcendental integration or synergetics What is important ("good") science? Science and Society Postmodernism and science The impact of the social, political, and economic context of scientists and their work The role of philosophers of science and other non-scientists (social scientists, political scientists, anthropologists, etc.) The application of scientific methods to "practical affairs" (such as Chamberlin's case of the method of multiple working hypotheses) The future of science (Kevin Kelly's views) I welcome adding other bullet points suggested by participants. Send me e-mail at [masked] to offer suggestions or just bring them to the meetup.
Note: I wrote a detailed review of Stephen Stearns' excellent introductory biology course (http://blog.cjfearnley.com/2011/08/23/a-big-picture-conceptual-introduction-to-biology-eeb-122/), EEB 122: Principles of Evolution, Ecology and Behavior (http://oyc.yale.edu/ecology-and-evolutionary-biology/principles-of-evolution-ecology-and-behavior), from which the lecture on science (and this discussion topic) springs.
I am looking for volunteers to lead future Ben Franklin Thinking Society meetups on "science and technology". If you have a topic of interest, please send me an e-mail ([masked]) outlining your subject.