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Science, culture, education, and the brain: science

Science, culture, education, and the brain:
Loopiness and conflict in inquiry ... and life
Paul Grobstein
4th Annual Springer Forum on Cultural Studies of Science Education
24 March 2010

Science as life itself: an introduction to loopiness, story telling, culture, conflict, and inquiry

Traditional Linear Science

Loopy Story Telling Science


Science as body of facts established by specialized fact-generating people and process
Science as successive approximations to Truth

Science as authority about "natural world"

Science as process of getting it less wrong, potentially usable by and contributed to by everyone
Science as ongoing story telling and story revision: repeated making of observations, interpreting and summarizing observations, making new observations, making new summaries ... individually and collectively
Science as skepticism, a style of inquiry that can be used for anything, one which everybody is equipped to to/can get better at/be further empowered by, and contribute to - a way of making sense of what is but even more of exploring what might yet be

The crack

  • Multiple stories for a given set of observations
    • 3,5,7, .... ?
    • 1+1=2 or 1+1=10?
  • Observations in turn depend on stories
  • Science is as much about creation as about discovery

If science is as much about creation as discovery then the "crack" is a feature, not a bug ... and interpersonal, intercultural differences are an asset to the process rather than a problem or an indication it isn't working

Science is about skeptical empiricism, about challenging authority, about constructing stories to account for observations and using observations to challenge stories.  But it is equally about using stories to challenge, deconstruct, and reconstruct stories; conflict is a generative element in science.  Along both paths, the task is not only to make sense of what is but to conceive what might be.

For further exploration

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