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Salem Mattar Mr. Boghos T.O.K 23 April 2012 TOK Essay

Ever since the rise of the Scientific Revolution and the period Enlightenment, the entire planet has prized scientific progress, seemingly placing scientific theories and scientist leaders on a pedestal above their colleagues in „lesser‟ sectors of society such as, governmental or business leaders. This brings about the question: why are the sciences and the theories they disperse generally held in such a great regard? How, and with what results and consequences, do these two areas of knowledge utilize methods such as observation, collection of empirical evidence, and generally the scientific method, in the creation of theories? Key differences in the ways that these two areas of knowledge arrive at their conclusions also lead to differences to how they seem to convince others. How do they differ in this characteristic? Ultimately, to what extent can we rely on the scientific method in the making of accurate, consistent, and „convincing‟ theories?

Before starting, the criterion that constitutes something to be a theory in the sciences is that it must be an idea that is vivid, explanatory, and/or predictive in nature. This criterion is built around hypotheses that are supported with evidence, and corresponds to current knowledge. Most importantly, theories in the sciences must be able to be falsified. In this way, theories by definition can never be proven completely right; at best they can stay untouched by arguments of

Empirical experiments performed by the class all demonstrate the same results. with each positive test strengthening the theory even more. What the scientific method for the natural sciences depends on the most is reasoning. A convincing theory will be defined as one that can overcome disapproval and successfully persuade others to believe it. as the concentration of the reactants increased.Mattar2 the opposition. one of them being the collision theory. theories in human sciences naturally cannot base their theories on this as humans and cannot be counted on to act the same way. theories in natural sciences are convincing because of the nature in which the theories come about: the scientific method. the same . This method attempts to test observations and have reliable results. Though this is definitely an extremely simplified view on the matter. Why are certain theories so convincing that people have begun to take them as being true? One reason is that we put our confidence in the scientific method that scientists apply to develop their theories and conclusions. so did the rate of reaction. In chemistry. a process in which many participate in with the aim of describing the world in an objective manner. it demonstrates one of the strengths of the scientific method and the theories that result from them: repeated trials will all produce the same results. we have come across several theories. water can always be expected to boil at one hundred degrees under the same conditions. which delivers a qualitative description as to why chemical reactions occur. While theories in natural sciences are convincing when results of experiments or investigations are consistent and in agreement over time. and why reaction rates differ for multiple reactions. Another area of disagreement where definition is concerned is the word „convincing‟. In this way.

one such method of scrutiny would be evaluating whether or not a certain theory is true (although we‟ve established that theories cannot be proven true. regardless of whether the presenters of the theory meant to or not. with caution towards any conclusions that are drawn that aren‟t based directly off the observations made. we can assume that the most convincing theories are the ones most likely to be true). Evidently. we tend to analyze ideas put before us. can be applied to theories in both natural and human sciences. there is no way a theory in human sciences can aim to describe or foretell what will happen exactly in every individual situation. What is it then. Instead. Furthermore. about theories in the human sciences that can make them convincing? The effect of emotion and intuition is present when discussing how convincing a theory is. correspondence. Because of the abovementioned limitations.Mattar3 cannot be said for human beings or human societies. theories in human sciences do not rely on reproducibility or consistency of results as much when it comes to how convincing the theory really is. So while a basis for a sustainable theory in the natural sciences calls for a general agreement as well as the preciseness of results. in some cases even experiments are not possible. practicality. as it is in the natural sciences. The inherent differences between the natural and human sciences run deeper still. An economist who has developed a hypothesis as to how a population reacts to a financial crisis cannot simply announce a great market crash to try to prove it. the basis for the acceptance of theories in the human sciences seem to put more emphasis on interpretations based off of observations. Tests of agreement. As people that think. and to a certain extent. even when they are put in the same circumstances. theories in the human sciences aim to find general patterns in the behavior of societies and individuals. It is when the coherence test comes up that theories in human sciences .

in reality. The role of authority and the way a theory is presented in determining the convincing nature of theories. While we would like to believe that we are completely sane in our thinking and our evaluation of knowledge. but clearly this is not always the case. While we may fool ourselves into thinking that we are convinced purely on a rational basis. When presented with large-scale economic theories or such. . Following the previous example. most individuals do not have the adequate information to evaluate this using their own consistency tests. These conclusions are open to argument: the previous assumes that theories in the human sciences can be related to us as individuals. people might accept theories that match up with what they instinctively feel to be correct. For example. at least in the sense of whether or not that information is “common sense” to us. because we do not live in a microscopic world. This type of convincing is undoubtedly less common in the natural sciences where it is less likely that people have had personal experiences with the subject matter and thus cannot make these instinctive judgments on theories. one cannot be partial to “feel” that the cell theory is correct. I was able to relate to the provided examples. the theory of mental disagreement for me. we are simply putting our faith in the members of the scientific field to make these evaluations for us. although I have a very limited knowledge of psychology. is already intuitively convincing because in my few short minutes “researching” the topic on Wikipedia. the fact is that most normal individuals do not own the sufficient background knowledge essential to make such evaluations. As theories in human sciences attempt to predict human behavior. The claim that the rational and reasonable nature of the scientific method is what convinces us most of theories in natural science can also be debated upon.Mattar4 reveal the upper hand in its degree of convincingness. not just in the human sciences but also the natural sciences must be taken into account.

1 the neurological jargon -scientific language.Mattar5 The vulnerability of our brains to this is obvious in the study done by Weisberg and his fellow colleagues. when in fact. which found that adding a line of “neurobabble”. this belief in the scientific method is undoubtedly tied to our tendency to think that we understand more about these theories than we actually do. and not because of any sort of evaluation on the part of the average individual. Our fondness for thinking and making us think that we understand more about a topic than we really do obviously lead us to accept inaccurate results from “respectable” scientists. . The effect increased when said “findings” were released with pictures of the brain. The predictability and consistency of results in certain theories showcase the strengths of the scientific method in the development of theories. we are simply placing our trust in scientific figures to tell us what is convincing or not. The convincing nature of theories in the natural sciences and the human sciences can be explained through several methods. It would be unfair to discharge the influence of the rational nature of these theories in their ability to convince us.used inaccurately and meaninglessly to a scientific conclusion forced people to find it more convincing2. This suggest that at times. But to the average person who is unrelated to the fields of science. we are convinced by theories in the human and natural sciences because we place faith in specialist figures in these areas to make the correct deductions.

2012. 17 Apr."Psychobabble. Wikimedia Foundation." Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychobabble>. 18 Apr.Ibid .Mattar6 Bibliography 1. 2. 2012. Web.