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How does the social context of scientific work affect the methods and findings of science?

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Introduction

TOK In-Class Essay Physical Sciences How does the social context of scientific work affect the methods and findings of science? The world society is in a constant state of fluidity regarding everything from social customs and slang to technology and inventions. With even more abundance, scientific understanding and questioning evolve as time progresses. As the human race changes and grows, scientific knowledge of the world and universe must expand to accommodate the growth. To a large extent, the social situations surrounding the scientific work affect the specific sciences that are investigated. Historically, the use of science to explain natural phenomenon has existed for many centuries. Ancient establishments such as Stonehenge and Mayan temples demonstrate that these otherwise underdeveloped cultures had accurately grasped such scientific concepts as astronomy and its effect on the sun, weather, and the tides. ...read more.

Middle

If a certain epidemic breaks out in an area, for example, scientists may gear their research toward the cure for the illness. On a much larger scale lies the example of the historically, socially, and scientifically significant experimentation revolving around both space exploration and the creation of the atomic bomb. During the Cold War, the U.S. and Russia both strived to be the leading country in space exploration. When the Russians released Sputnik, John F. Kennedy decided it was crucial to surpass Russian abilities; in the early 1960's he pledged that a man would land on the moon within a decade. JFK, and later President Johnson, knew that having a U.S. astronaut land on the moon would stir self-esteem and nationalism into the American mind. Aware of this, it was only right to avidly pursue scientific research in this field. ...read more.

Conclusion

Firstly, this thesis is limited by the fact that it does not reflect any social bearing upon the methods used to research. Most importantly, it is necessary to recognize that this thesis cannot be truly verified. There is no way to prove that certain research would or wouldn't have been done without the social context that surrounded it. For example, if Mendel had not originally investigated genetics or Pavlov had not defined stimulus-response behaviors, there is no way to confirm that these studies would have not been more or less culturally significant if they had been performed in other cultural settings. In the end, it is most reasonable to assert that social climate and context directly influences what scientific unknowns are investigated. This is best demonstrated by such crucial and recognized scientific breakthroughs as space exploration and the atomic bomb, both of which directly resulted from societal pressure gain such scientific knowledge. Clearly, the progression and situation of society goes hand in hand with that of the scientific world. ...read more.

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