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July 04, 2008

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Ken Allan

Kia ora Marsha!

I think there is a real danger of confusing science and pseudoscience - you correctly identified the need to be discerning when something is claimed to be 'scientific'. But Science itself is built on argument, and a large proportion of that is scientific even if theories appear to oppose each other. This is a feature of Science, however, that many non-scientists do not understand.

Most of the time good science asks questions rather than gives answers. It is in the attempts to provide answers that there is often confusion, for the non-science-oriented person may not understand that 'scientific' answers can be flawed and for a raft of different reasons, not all of which take it into the realm of quackery. The same person can also be confused when several, apparently opposing answers are provided from the same scientific source. Understanding that good Science often attempts to explain why, rather than how, goes a long way to understanding what Science is about.

Good luck with your research.

Ka kite
from Middle-earth

Marsha Ratzel

Thanks for your reminder about the nature of science because I completely agree. In fact, I might offer that I think it is the very process of evaluating someone's conclusion (or claim)that forces students into questioning.

It's my hope that questioning and evaluating is part and parcel of everything that they'll do in the process. They'll read the article or look at the lab results...questioning what is it that they are really trying to say. Then they'll move onto looking for the evidence to support that claim...questioning what kind of evidence it gives and how much they can "trust" that evidence. Again I think that speaks to the issue that you were addressing in your comment.

Then finally you have to identify and then evaluting the process of thinking that went on in formulating the conclusion. Do you evaluate their thinking process as sound?

All of this to decide whether or not you accept, reject or withhold this claim. Again I think it the process, not so much the decision that you make at the end, that is the scientists process. Always looking at ideas and running them through your discrimination filter to see if they make sense given what you know.

Anyway that's the hope. Thanks for posting

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