Monday, October 21, 2013

Preconceptions and their impact on our findings

Interesting post over at Black, White and Gray, a blog by some Christian sociologists:
This gets us back to thinking about the institution of science. What is true for the individual can be even truer in a community that reinforces previously accepted corporate assumptions. Thomas Kuhn argued that scientists develop paradigms based on previous ideas. This paradigm is accepted and defended until it reaches a point when there is so much disconfirming evidence that it becomes nearly logically impossible to believe in the paradigm. But usually the paradigm goes relatively unchallenged and scientists attempt to defend it against all attacks. According to Kuhn, the normal state of affairs is scientists fighting to maintain the paradigm against all attacks instead of looking for all possible answers to research questions. We like to think of scientists as individuals open to all possible answers. But the result of the article reinforces the reality that scientists, like others, when looking for answers to research questions tend to look for those that fit their presuppositions.
<idle musing>
Read the whole thing to get the full context. But, in a nutshell, it is very hard (and draining) to look beyond your presuppositions—and the Internet makes it even harder! You can search for what you want to find, thereby short-circuiting any semblance of critical thinking. It's definitely easier and makes you feel like you did real research, but the whole time you were simply looking for confirmation of your preconceptions. I've done it far too often : (

I'm convinced only the Holy Spirit can break through our preconceptions...
</idle musing>

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