An Introduction To Understanding Science

What Is Science?

Hello students. Note that this content was developed for the student audience of a talk I gave during the process of a job interview. I think this is important information for all the reasons the follow, so I have edited it to suit a general purpose and audience. I kep the links to my teaching and research presentations - pdf documents.

First of all, thanks for taking the time to prepare for my lecture. You will see links to the files I have attached to this page, which are to pdf documents of my PowerPoint lecture and notes as well as selected parts of pertinent readings on scientific philosophy.

I chose this topic as I think all undergraduate and graduate students of any discipline need to understand science. I don't think we in academia do a good enough job of this. In other words, we may teach subjects that are labelled as science, but that is not teaching what science is and/or should be. I can certainly vouch for a lack of understanding of science based on what I have come to realize were the deficiencies of my own formal education. Thankfully my professional education that has followed continues to fill-in some of these gaps in knowledge and understanding. Given that, this content is likely to be totally new to you, and because of that, I hope it sparks more interest than otherwise based on a rehash of previously taught information.

During my lecture, I want to interact with you, ask questions, have you explain what you are thinking, and if all goes well, challenge some of your views on what science is, how it is performing, and what we need to do to make it better. This is where the reading is important. Yes, I know there is quite a bit of it, but do what you can. I recommend the following order for the reading;

1. Samir Okasha. Philosophy Of science? - Chpt 1: What is science?

2. Karl Popper. The Logic Of Scientific Discovery. Preface to the English Edition, 1958.

3. Thomas Kuhn. The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions. Introductory Essay by Ian Hacking.

4. Imre Lakatos and Alan Musgrave. Criticism And The Growth Of Knowledge. Essay by Karl Popper - Normal Science And Its Dangers.

5. Looking over the PowerPoint lecture.

There is also a pdf handout (2 slides/page) of my PowerPoint lecture (Teaching Presentation) and my Research presentation (Research Presentation).