Thursday, January 31, 2019

"Venus meets the waning crescent Moon" (New photo of mine on Flickr)

Title: "Venus meets the waning crescent Moon"
Photographer: William Hart, Ph.D.
Description: "via Instagram"
Taken: January 31, 2019 at 02:38AM
(C) William Hart

Monday, January 14, 2019

MediaResearch: Curiosity, Magic and Theory (W2-P5) [VIDS] Sp19

In the previous post I discussed the Critical Thinker's Creed.

Which one of the traits given in the creed is most important?  Open-mindedness? Creativity? Curiosity? Being knowledgeable?

After some careful thought, I'd have to say the key trait in the creed is curiosity.  Without curiosity, the rest don't matter. If we are not curious about how things work, then what place is there for the others?

So, let's explore curiosity a little more by way of magic. Ever watched a magic trick and became curious? "How'd they do that?"  When you ask yourself this question you are seeking a theory to explain the trick.

Let's define a theory as an explanation of how something works.  How does that trick work?  Why do people do what they do (what's the process)? Why, if you drop a book, it falls to the floor (how exactly does that work)?  Got theory?

Back to the magic show:
To practice your curiosity muscle, check out this Lance Burton magic trick.  Ask yourself, how'd he do that?

Seriously, stop and think about how he did what he did?  What's your theory/explanation? Figure out some detail.  Write down your explanation.  Draw a diagram.

Did you think it through very carefully?  Go back, if not, and theorize.

And, only once you've carefully thought about a possible explanation, then check out the next video. This is a video that I put together to explain the trick. Or maybe it was real magic?  That's a theory, too.

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MediaResearch: Critical Thinkers and Scientists (W2-P4) Sp19

One way of defining a critical thinker is to identify some of the traits of a critical thinker, a critical thinker's creed, if you will. 

The Critical Thinker’s Creed

  • We are Open-minded.
    • We seek to understand other viewpoints.
  • We are Knowledgeable.
    • We offer opinions/claims backed with logic and evidence.
  • We are Mentally Active.
    • We use our intelligence to confront problems.
  • We are Creative.
    • We break out of established patterns of thinking and approach situations from innovative directions.
  • We are Independent Thinkers.
    • We are not afraid to disagree with the group opinion.
  • We are Curious.
    • We go beyond superficial explanations. We seek deeper understanding.

O-K-M-C-I-C   [What's this?]

So, a critical thinker is a person who follows the creed above (or some similar creed)?
Do you follow this creed?

Note: The creed above is based on a section of Chaffee's The Thinker's Way 


We could define a scientist as a person who does science, but that begs the question what is science. Below are some possible definitions of science based a presentation by Dr. William McComas (Skeptic Society).

  • “Science is what scientists do.”
    • So, science is what scientist do.  Scientist are those who do science.   This one isn't so helpful.
  • “Science is a method of testing claims and it is not an immutable compendium of absolute truths.”
    • This definition works.  Highlights how science is a process, something we do.
  • “Science is the quest for knowledge, not the knowledge itself.”
    • Again, science is a process, in this case, a quest.

So with these last two definitions of science, then how do we define a scientist? 

I started this blog post with some questions: How should we define these three terms and how are they related?  Are they three different labels for the same thing?  Related, but a little different?  How are they different?

Got some answers?  If so, next...

Now, after thinking about how these three terms relate to one another, ask yourself, how do they relate to you?  Are you a scientist?   A critical thinker?  A skeptic (i.e., practice skepticism as defined previously)? 

And, what does this discussion have to do with related terms like theory and research?

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