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Thread: The Science of Ordinary Activity

  1. #1 The Science of Ordinary Activity 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Just thinking: Is there a science for everything we do? Take fishing for example, is fishing a science? Observation and experimentation happens in spades for the serious fisherman. More has probably been written about fishing than most of the big name sciences. Same could be said for a lot of mankind's activities. If fishing is a science then why isn't fishing listed in the Science Forum's subforum index?

    Much of what we do, we perfect. We learn by observing, formulating theories and trial. Let's go back to the sciences listed in the subforum's index, what separates those particular sciences from the science of fishing? Do the accepted sciences encompass ordinary activity? Would the science of fishing fall under one or more of the main science disciplines? Could the sciences listed in the subforum index all fall under the category of physics, is that why it has a high rank here? If so then does that mean the study of medicine is not any different than the study of fishing?

    Before you jump all over me, read what I said very carefully. I am not suggesting any of the above is my opinion on the matter. This is merely a thought of mine that is causing me to ask questions. I have not said ordinary activity, such as fishing, is or isn't a science.


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    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    What an interesting idea for a thread, zinjanthropos!

    I used to do quite a bit of fishing and there was a lot of observation involved as well as much understanding of the habits of the species of fish, the food they preferred in each season, where they would be found at various times of the day and in different weather conditions. We often fished for grayling in the creeks and many of those creeks were glacier fed and silty and so we found that small red and white spinners worked the best in the murky water.

    Fly fishing was of interest to me and I found that Royal Coachman flies were very effective as well as Black Gnats.



    Fishing is considered an art by many, an acquired skill that encompasses a considerable understanding of environmental science.

    There is a lot of science in all of our everyday activities and cooking as one example, is easier to learn if one has a bit of an understanding of chemistry.


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    I prefer neverfly fishing.







    Such a narcissist.
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  5. #4  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scheherazade View Post
    What an interesting idea for a thread, zinjanthropos!

    I used to do quite a bit of fishing and there was a lot of observation involved as well as much understanding of the habits of the species of fish, the food they preferred in each season, where they would be found at various times of the day and in different weather conditions. We often fished for grayling in the creeks and many of those creeks were glacier fed and silty and so we found that small red and white spinners worked the best in the murky water.

    Fly fishing was of interest to me and I found that Royal Coachman flies were very effective as well as Black Gnats.



    Fishing is considered an art by many, an acquired skill that encompasses a considerable understanding of environmental science.

    There is a lot of science in all of our everyday activities and cooking as one example, is easier to learn if one has a bit of an understanding of chemistry.
    Thanks for the kind words. Fishing tips too, last thing I'd have expected in the Philosophy subforum.

    Are fisherman scientists? Chefs? Truck drivers? The bum on the streets? Punsters?
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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  6. #5  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    I think the difference is in how rigorously something is studied.

    I'm quite sure there a re large number of things that many fishermen believe and that appear to be confirmed by the experience and observation. But until someone actually makes some objective, independent measurements and some statistical analysis of the results, it will not be clear if those things are valid observations or just the effects of confirmation bias, say.

    People do quite often apply more rigorous (scientific) approaches to studying everyday things (these are often the subject of the Ignobel Prizes). And they often come up with surprising results. Sometimes that surprising thing might be confirming an old wives tale.

    Are fisherman scientists? Chefs? Truck drivers? The bum on the streets? Punsters?
    There are chefs who take a very scientific approach. One of my favourite magazines when I lived in the US was Cook's Illustrated; when they were asked about the best recipe for X, or which oil was best etc, they didn't just come up with a stock answer. They went to the kitchen and cooked a dozen variations of the recipe and then did taste tests.

    If the bum on the street analyses his takings based on time/location and chooses the most profitable place to ask for money, then he is a scientist.
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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  7. #6  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    Take fishing for example, is fishing a science?
    There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.
    Steven Wright


    Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.
    Henry David Thoreau


    Last year I went fishing with Salvador Dali. He was using a dotted line. He caught every other fish.
    Steven Wright


    If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles.
    Doug Larson


    The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.
    John Buchan
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    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    Originally posted by zinjanthropos:
    Are fisherman scientists? Chefs? Truck drivers? The bum on the streets? Punsters?
    It's called life science, lol... In a mad, mad world we are all active practitioners.

    A fisherman is a practicing ichthyologist.
    A chef is an experimental scientist.
    A truck driver is a mechanical engineer.
    A bum on the streets is a sociologist.
    A punster may be said to be practicing gelotology.

    Gelotology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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  9. #8  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    How about UFOlogy, cryptozoology...... science? For that matter, theology? Are some of our pursuits not science?
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    If we take into account all that transpires here then I think it's time for the science forum to take a good look at itself. Perhaps we may be on the verge of a new science here. What I mean is ...... if there's a science to fishing & UFO's then there's got to be a science to science forums. We all observe, we all test the limits of forum behavior and whatnot, we all have our own conclusions but has anybody ever seriously studied a science forum? What do we know? Is there one way, a perfect design, a science forum that is the science forum of science forums, the creme de la creme?

    Is sole discussion of science topics the answer? Limiting participants to just scientists? Having a panel of experts answer layperson's questions?
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverfly View Post
    I prefer neverfly fishing.

    issist.
    My favorite kind of fishing is trolling.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Neverfly View Post
    I prefer neverfly fishing.

    issist.
    My favorite kind of fishing is trolling.
    My apologies. I thought a bit of humor was permitted here.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverfly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Neverfly View Post
    I prefer neverfly fishing.

    issist.
    My favorite kind of fishing is trolling.
    My apologies. I thought a bit of humor was permitted here.
    Agreed. I didn't mean to imply you were trolling. Just having some fun myself.
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  14. #13  
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    It's pretty easy to combine trolling with fly fishing. I do this all the time from my small row boat. Troll a fly until I find the fish or spot surface activity, than stop and go back to casting. Royal coachman are effective, not only for trout, but small mouth bass. Though I'm found of adams for trout surface feeders.

    Blue streamers worms of just about any design seem to work well as wet flies.
    Woolie worms are great for large moving water

    small mouth bass love poppers of just about any design around big light changes in summer (even moon rise at night...lol)
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  15. #14  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Nice thread.
    Short answer: no.
    Fishing, and many other things in daily life are aimed at a fixed and pre-determined outcome.
    Fishermen pre-suppose an outcome - they expect (or at least fervently hope for) a fish after all the activity (or maybe just the "fun" of expecting?). 1.
    Science just hopes for "some sort of result that is meaningful".
    While many everyday activities can, and do, incorporate science (whether we actively/ consciously acknowledge it or not) they aren't a science in and of themselves.

    Science is performed in the spirit of enquiry, everyday activities are (generally) performed in the expectation of, and work towards, a particular result.

    1 Although, after having tried it (once) myself I fail to see the fun in sitting for endless hours in the rain watching the water and eating soggy sandwiches. You'd suppose being English would have inured me to that sort of experience - after all if I'd been doing that on the coast it would have been designated "Summer Holiday" rather than "fishing", but there you go.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Although, after having tried it (once) myself I fail to see the fun in sitting for endless hours in the rain watching the water and eating soggy sandwiches..
    I do as well. Which is one reason I started to fly fish. It's mentally challenging trying to figure out what the fish and often dependent on the type, size and changing environment as well as physically active because it's about constant movement hiking streams, rowing, wading or even casting while slowly working oneself along a shoreline. At some point also it gets past the fishing. A fly fishing natural once compared fishing to steps---at first you want quantity ("I caught six fish!"), next if quality ("Mine was 18 inches"!), an appreciation of stalking catching a particular fish, and finally to not so much caring about the fish at all--but as an opportunity to see the amazing natural wildlife. I've been as delighted to see a doe and fawn drift down within touching of my standing in a river as they crossed a river, as the chunky 3 pound rainbow I caught that day, or the hilarious moment of a coon dashing out to grab a brown trout I'd tosses ashore from mid stream, or the arms reach aging black bear I stumbled upon while hiking up to an alpine lake. Precious memories that transcend the fishing.
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  17. #16  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Science just hopes for "some sort of result that is meaningful".While many everyday activities can, and do, incorporate science (whether we actively/ consciously acknowledge it or not) they aren't a science in and of themselves.
    I hope all those years spent getting my degree in Spermology (the study of trivia) doesn't get wasted. In fact I'm hoping to win next weekend's trivia contest down at the community centre. Means a lot to me, first prize $500.
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  18. #17  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    In fact I'm hoping to win next weekend's trivia contest down at the community centre. Means a lot to me, first prize $500.
    That could be useful!
    On the other hand, in my "heyday" of trivia quizzes people (on prospective opposing teams) offered to pay me to NOT take part!
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    To answer the OP, I think science applies to most things in ordinary life. While I wouldn't consider my fishing experiences to be the scientific method, I've certainly benefited from science to improve my fishing-- for example I know to duck along a grassy bank to get below the angle of refraction so trout looking up for a meal don't see me; I know the optimum temperatures and spawning habits; I know that using a tippet with the same refractive index of water makes it harder for a fish to see; I know that most flies are designed to attract people in the store rather than fish in the stream; I know to use tender footsteps in a stream because its louder to a fish than yelling at my partner down at the next hole--many things.
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    Many fly fishermen are also well versed in entomology and study the various mayflies and other insects that hatch in a trout stream. This is so they can "match the hatch" and tie on the appropriate artificial fly for the insects that are hatching.
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    When one considers how important fish has been to our species as a source of nourishment, I don't know how fishing could could be considered as anything but science. Through observation and experimentation, we have learned when, where and how various fish can be harvested and preserved. The nutrients in the fish are also important to soil ecology and observably
    chemical tests detect salmon-derived nitrogen in animals and trees surprisingly deep into Alaska's coastal forests and tundra, and prove that the biological fuel wild salmon runs provide help enable the region’s remarkably rich ecosystems.


    Additionally, the salmon is associated with wisdom by the Celts and certain First Nations people. There is much myth and lore about the wisdom of the salmon, a creature which has strong ties both to science and various belief systems.

    Pagan Celts believe the salmon is one of the wisest and most ancient of all animals. This fish has inspired many myths and legends in Wales, Ireland and Scotland.
    Salmon - Pagan Symbol of Wisdom and Knowledge | Suite101


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  22. #21  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scheherazade View Post
    I don't know how fishing could could be considered as anything but science.
    Fishing is an industry (or a hobby) not a science.
    While science is involved, the aim of fishing is to come home with fish, not knowledge of fish.

    Science can improve the methods of fishing, the sustainability, and result in bigger catches, but fishing qua fishing is something other than science.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by scheherazade View Post
    I don't know how fishing could could be considered as anything but science.
    Fishing is an industry (or a hobby) not a science.
    While science is involved, the aim of fishing is to come home with fish, not knowledge of fish.

    Science can improve the methods of fishing, the sustainability, and result in bigger catches, but fishing qua fishing is something other than science.
    This strikes me as illogical.

    One cannot hope to come home with fish unless one has acquired and knows when and how to utilize their knowledge of fish. The actual activity of fishing requires ongoing observation and adjustment, whether one is casting a line, setting a net or using a set line. Conditions are constantly changing and the method/time of fishing needs to follow suit.

    Perhaps this is not obvious unless one has gone hungry if they did not catch a fish...
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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Perhaps we're using "science" with different meanings.
    Science is "a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe". (Wiki).
    Fishing is "the activity of trying to catch fish" (Also Wiki).

    The ultimate aims are different - fishing expects (and desires) a definite material result - something to eat/ sell at the end the end of the day.
    Science only seeks to improve knowledge.
    A "non-result" is a "win" for science - we know that method doesn't work - an increase in knowledge.
    A "non-result" in fishing is a failure and a decrease in diet.

    The actual activity of fishing requires ongoing observation and adjustment
    But surely that's the application of science.
    I.e. using methods and data already discovered. Admittedly from previous experience - but is science used consciously and without exception every time one goes fishing?
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  25. #24  
    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Perhaps we're using "science" with different meanings.
    Entirely possible.

    Science is "a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe". (Wiki).
    Fishing is a systemic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable methods and predictions for locating and procuring fish, an applied science within the framework of 'universe'.

    Fishing is "the activity of trying to catch fish" (Also Wiki).
    An exceedingly narrow definition.

    The ultimate aims are different - fishing expects (and desires) a definite material result - something to eat/ sell at the end the end of the day.
    Science only seeks to improve knowledge.
    A "non-result" is a "win" for science - we know that method doesn't work - an increase in knowledge.
    A "non-result" in fishing is a failure and a decrease in diet.
    Not all fishing is for harvest. Some is for recreation or sport as in catch and release with barbless hooks. Considerable fishing is also done for tagging and research, to learn more about various species, from genetics to life cycle and habits.
    The same win/loss evaluation applies to fishing as to any other science. All observations add to the knowledge base and determine which approaches are most likely to yield the desired results or cause the observer to refine their hypothesis and testing methods.

    The actual activity of fishing requires ongoing observation and adjustment
    But surely that's the application of science.
    I.e. using methods and data already discovered. Admittedly from previous experience - but is science used consciously and without exception every time one goes fishing?
    Are you suggesting that all other 'science' is only done 'consciously'? I would suggest that much science has come about from our unconscious observations that eventually surface to be further pondered.

    As for applied science, isn't that the whole point of the exercise, to arrive at a consistent base of knowledge to enable us to navigate in a medium where the only observable constant presents as change?
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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    I think we're at cross purposes here.
    Science is the pursuit of knowledge (usually for its own sake).
    Fishing is the pursuit of fish (or enjoyment).
    I'm not disputing that science is used in fishing (or to aid fishing), simply that fishing, in and of itself, isn't a "science".

    Maybe this will help explain my differentiation:
    Although some scientific research is applied research into specific problems, a great deal of our understanding comes from the curiosity-driven undertaking of basic research.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    I'd say fishing is unpredictable. I've conducted several tests over the years and have discovered that what works one day doesn't work the next, even though I am not doing anything different. Perhaps because fish exhibit a wave property it could mean they actually might not be where I would expect them to be. I cannot tell the position of an individual fish, even though the most sophisticated fishfinder I can buy indicates a school right under my boat. This ichthyo-fuzziness is most disturbing but a fundamental part of nature.
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    Science is the pursuit of knowledge (usually for its own sake).

    Not really. What you're talking about is basic research, which is mostly done by the government agencies, often because of the high risk of not producing anything interesting or useful. Applied research, such as trying to improve understanding of hurricanes to predict them better and save lives, or new drug research by private companies and many more are funded with a specific goal in mind--often combined with the necessary engineering research.

    Though blurred to some degree there's definitely a difference between those who use science and might even know quite a bit about it, such as a doctor--and a medical researcher who actually does the science to advance our medical knowledge. Other examples are weather forecasters versus weather researchers (I've done both). Often they carry similar credentials the primary difference is the role they play.
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    Dywyddyr, I actually understand the differentiation adequately. I was merely playing 'devil's advocate' for the pleasure of it and I appreciate your tactful responses and links. On a personal note, I consider my whole life to be a continuum of experimental science and I consider that it has been a successful experiment to date, given that I am enjoying a cup of freshly brewed coffee and posting on this forum.

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    I have no doubt that you understand. And don't give me too much credit for tact since this is a case of "I know what I mean but I can't express it properly".
    I also have no problem with devil's advocate, especially when my own ideas/ stances are only half-formed (and possibly insupportable).
    One reason I'm here is to clarify my own thinking 1, and "jousting opponents" like you are much appreciated.

    1 In the sense of "Do I really think what I think I think?" 2 and "Why, exactly, do I take that position?".
    2 And yes, I have the book - mostly, on the basis of that - Baggini's questions and explanations -, I actually do.
    Last edited by Dywyddyr; February 11th, 2013 at 03:05 PM.
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    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    I have no doubt that you understand. And don't give me too much credit for tact since this is a case of "I know what I mean but I can't express it properly".
    I also have no problem with devil's advocate, especially when my own ideas/ stances are only half-formed (and possibly insupportable).
    One reason I'm here is to clarify my own thinking 1, and "jousting opponents" like you are much appreciated.

    1 In the sense of "Do I really think what I think I think?" 2 and "Why, exactly, do I take that position?".




    2 And yes, I have the book - mostly, on the basis of that Baggini's questions and explanations, I actually do.
    LOL, if you lived closer I still think you have potential as a dinner guest and I would seat you next to 'Jenny', a former debater, who could likely hold her own with you as she enjoys such 'sport'. She used to intimidate me when she would make a remark, I would gently agree and then she would immediately assume the opposite stance. Yikes! Once I managed to convey that this made me uncomfortable, for I really do not care to debate matters which are untestable, she modified her engagement style with me and now we get on quite well.

    I took a look at the book reviews on the above and while it looks somewhat interesting, I still have several books that I have purchased and not even opened. A slight sense of guilt suggests that I should not continue to add to this collection, lol, albeit I am pretty good at getting around that socially conditioned response. Perhaps I will become a book collector... no need to justify my collection, read or unread, then.

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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scheherazade View Post
    A slight sense of guilt suggests that I should not continue to add to this collection, lol, albeit I am pretty good at getting around that socially conditioned response.
    Since my "collection" is now approaching 1 20,000 volumes (not counting periodicals) I can only say: carry ignoring that response.
    If you see a potentially interesting book grab it!

    1 Approaching - but I'm not quite sure from which direction, it's a while since I last attempted to take stock.
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  33. #32  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Hah! Found it.
    I'm re(?1)-reading Robin Dunbar's The Trouble With Science and it's got my exact position stated quite clearly.
    George Gale discerned two types of science - "cookbook" and "explanatory". The former being merely the accumulation of empirical observations, the latter going on to invent explanations (forming hypotheses).
    Probably better distinguished by Gilbert Ryle's "knowing how" and "knowing that/ (or why2)".
    The first implies a technical competence - e.g. the user can apply the knowledge, but only the second implies that hypotheses are formed and predictions can be made - in other words actually understanding what happens and why.

    I'd put fishing (and most everyday activities) in the "cookbook" category while "real" science is (surprise!) in the second.


    1 Yeah I know - I know damn well I started the book years ago, but can't remember if I finished it or not. That's probably a result of the current hole in my head. C'est la vie...
    2 The "why" is Dunbar's distinction.
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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  34. #33  
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    I think fishing can be done in a cookbook manner, but there is some room for using explanatory methods. Example: you notice that live bait works a lot better in rainy weather than artificial lures. The cookbook approach would be, just use live bait when it's rainy, artificial lures on clear days. The explanatory method might be something like: "The rain makes the creek rise and the water gets muddy, so the fish can't see the artificial lure." You might test this by trying an artificial lure when it starts to rain but before the water gets muddy. Or try a scented lure in rainy weather.
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  35. #34  
    Time Lord
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    George Gale discerned two types of science - "cookbook" and "explanatory". The former being merely the accumulation of empirical observations, the latter going on to invent explanations (forming hypotheses).
    Ironically the modern cookbook, invented by the Boston School of Cooking and first to list exact measurements and step-by-step instructions, was touted as a scientific method of cooking. By this method pre-tested recipes could be repeated by cooks who had no idea why a recipe gave certain instructions, but still produce good results. The old method could be a rambling paragraph explaining processes, as in "add flour until dough no longer sticks to bowl". The new method looked like this example from the 1896 original:

    White Corn Cake

    1/4 cup butter.
    1/2 cup sugar.
    1 1/3 cups milk.
    Whites 3 eggs.
    1 1/4 cups white corn meal.
    1 1/4 cups flour.
    4 teaspoons baking powder.
    1 teaspoon salt.

    Cream the butter; add sugar gradually; add milk, alternating with dry ingredients, mixed and sifted. Beat thoroughly; add whites of eggs beaten stiff. Bake in buttered cake pan thirty minutes.
    It that were chemistry class, students would be chanting "Why? Why? Why?"



    I categorize "everyday" activities as art or science. In this context an art is an activity that depends on finesse; a science is an activity that depends on rules or theories. Washing one plate is art; washing six plates efficiently is science.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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