Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Groundhog Day and Predictability

Groundhog Day
6 more weeks of winter. I don’t know what is worse, six more weeks of winter or 12 more weeks of HIB readings. I guess people want to know the future, but especially if the news is good. Groundhog Day is about knowing the future and appraising truth. Is it scientific? Do people consider it valid, or is it just another silly ritual that people have invented?
Certainly proof is not prognostication. The tortoise shell was once an ancient oracle used by the Chinese to prognosticate. But I think we have to realize that the groundhog argument is an appeal to the feelings rather than to reason.
Meltzoff discusses many reasons to believe, but his main ideas, and ones that should long ago have been hammered into our brains in English Composition 101, when writing our first essays, or evaluating our first articles with an ounce of critical reasoning, would be captured in the bold headings that Meltzoff uses to organize his methods for seeking truth: Faith, Reason, Feeling, Sensory Information, Legal Methods, and Empirical and Experimental Methods. Meltzoff also offers his own methodology for reading scientific studies critically. If Meltzoff’s own advice holds up to criticism then it will be of great help in a course where scrutinizing and critiquing theory is at its heart. Basically, Meltzoff’s ideas are quite basic, which is in fact quite helpful. Unfortunately, we cannot select articles to read simply because the title sounds as “though it might be of interest.” In fact, one of the least interesting aspects of the readings is the titles. Meltzoff offers a basic checklist for approaching research articles, and that is to be interactive, say, speak to the text by writing back to it, and look for the three components, the hypothesis, the data, and the discussion, and if all the parts are not there, or if there are some inconsistencies, then trust your judgment. The research can be flawed, even if it has passed the discerning red pen of the editor, when the editor is the first cousin of the author who owes them a favor.

1.2 Critical Thinking about Research by J. Meltzoff

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