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Loopy VS Linear Science

Wil Franklin's picture
Introduction to Science

This page was authored by Wil Franklin as a resource page for Introducing Science and the process of ScienceIt uses many other web sources and is only to be used and cited for educational purposes.



Science as Construction versus Discovery

  • No authority
  • No TRUTH
  • No Right or Wrong
  • Only useful explanation/models in particular contexts. (Does it help solve a problem/provide a solution/answer a question?)

More on the "Crack"

Our nervous system/brain creates both our sense of self and our sense of the world. The brain is what it is due to some evolutionary history of what has worked in the past, the interaction between this innate structure and the current physical environment as well as the cultural environment of other brains. Historical properties, environmental interactions and cultural inputs all influence the brain and the way we "see" the world. The crack is each of our own unique perspective of the universe we find ourselves in at this moment in history.

Experiencing the Crack

  • ambiguous figures - our culture affects how we see things? the mind can see things in more than one way and must choose between them
  • optical illusions - brain heuristics with evolutionary advantage, but is it a lie?

The Brain as an informed guesser - observations as constructions

The blind spot

Visual illusions, St Louis Arch, Measurements of arch

The color problem and "reality" (color contrastor)

Perception as construction (lateral inhibition)

Spinning Ballerina

Two point discrimination - ultimately limited by the architecture of our nervous system

More on our sensory systems and "out there/reality"by Laura Cyckowski and Paul Grobstein

And it's not just visual illustions that demonstrate the mind choosing between interpretations... what about the aditory illusion of puns?

When word play is more than some antics (symantics)?

Resource page for Background on the Nervous System and Anatomy


Role of Imagination in Science

"In science, the obvious role of imagination is in the context of discovery. Unimaginative scientists don’t produce radically new ideas. But even in science imagination plays a role in justification too. Experiment and calculation cannot do all its work. When mathematical models are used to test a conjecture, choosing an appropriate model may itself involve imagining how things would go if the conjecture were true. Mathematicians typically justify their fundamental axioms, in particular those of set theory, by informal appeals to the imagination."

-- from Reclaiming the Imagination by Timothy Williamson

Summary thus far....

  • blind spot reveals that our brain can "make things up"
  • optical illusions demonstrate that our brain can lie to us
  • ambiguous figures show that our brain can construct more than one interpretation, but we can be conscious of only one at a time
  • two pt. discrimination reveals that our brain is ultimately limited in it's ability to construct meaning by the sensitivity of our sensory system. Some information "out there" is lost on the way "in" to our brains.
  • imagination is an essential cognitive skill used in developing empirical understandings about the natural world


SHARING DIVERSE UNDERSTANDINGS AS A WAY TO EXPLORE POSSIBILITIES (Conversation as Evolution; Understanding as Diversity)

Principles of co-constructive dialogue (see also Dialogue and On dialogue, culture, and organizational learning)

  • everyone has expertise, no one has authority
  • everyone needs to speak meaningfully, listen attentively, and be willing/able to change their existing understandings
  • differing understandings are to be valued and explored rather than corrected
  • sharing existing understandings leads to new and different understandings
  • the task is to achieve new understandings, individually and perhaps collectively as well

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.

- Rumi (1207-1273)




"Problem-solving is to new understandings as environment is to evolution." from conversations in the 2010 Brain, Science and Inquiry-Based Education summer institute.

Logical Corollary: Conversation is to understanding as biotic interactions are to evolution.


Summary thus far....

  • Diversity is both an essential ingredient and primary product of biological evolution
  • Dialogue/conversation is a specialized process that makes use of diverse understandings to create new understandings both within an individual and collectively between individuals
  • Problems/Questions in supplying a context give dialogue a purpose, which serves to measure the usefulness of different understandings.


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