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Week 1 Notes

by: Aafreen Afzal

Week 1 Notes PSC 2101

Aafreen Afzal
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About this Document

These are the notes from the first two lectures this week along with the online reading that was due.
Scope and Methods: Political Science
Professor Balla
Class Notes
political, Science, International, relations




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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Aafreen Afzal on Tuesday April 26, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSC 2101 at George Washington University taught by Professor Balla in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 3 views. For similar materials see Scope and Methods: Political Science in Political Science at George Washington University.

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Date Created: 04/26/16
SCOPE AND METHODS - POLITICAL SCIENCE LECTURE 1 Debate over Gun Policy Do gun policies work? We all have intuitions about the efficacy of gun policies… what are yours? Most Americans think background checks should be performed Others think checks should be made on terrorist watch list Course goals • better understand analysis of politics and public policy we encounter in everyday life • take first steps toward conducting original analyses of politics and public policy • this course is about HOW to study these institutions and processes • we want to improve our understanding of politics and public policy in the real world ASSIGNED READING The Enigma of Chinese Medicine • Demarcation: The challenge of distinguishing between real science and pseudoscience • Falsifiability: Evidence cannot prove or disprove its natural theology beliefs) - Theory by Karl Popper • Larry Laudan: Falsifiability rules out many legitimate theoretical claims of physics, astrology, etc if the proponents are clever about which observations corroborate their predictions • Thomas Kuhn: Legitimate science rarely abandons a theory the moment falsifying observations come in preferring counter evidence to experimental error • Paul Feyerabend: Science is not a special technique to get the truth but a flawed species of regular human reasoning (loaded with error, bias and rhetorical persuasion) Increased rationality does not always decrease credulity • TCM: Chinese are trying to make TCM more credible. Westerners are gravitating towards acupuncture, etc. LECTURE 2 Authority • Common way we come to know what we know • Parents telling you not to touch the stove • Are athletes authority figures when it comes to the SI jinx? Logic • Athletes tend to appear on the SI cover before the big game • Or when they are performing at the highest level of their career Science • A set of rules, a strategy, a mode of inquiry, a process of addressing questions • Goal is the production of knowledge that has unique characteristics Characteristics of scientific knowledge • Empirical • General • Explanatory • Tentative: How much water per day, cholesterol risks (all change over time) Does traditional Chinese medicine work? • Fire Cupping • Scientists theorized, hypothesized and assumed the reality of the gene (a unit of heredity) long before anyone actually observed one” • The Higgs boson was posited in the 1960s but only confirmed in 2013 The fundamentals of presidential elections • Strength of the economy • Popularity of the incumbent After-school programs • Do after-school programs work? • Little evidence and a lot of spending • Nationwide study of homework and recreational programs conducted via random assignment The findings • Overall, not so good • Students in after-school programs spent more time with teachers and had parents who were more involved but… • Schoolwork did not improve • Students did not feel safer and exposure to marijuana


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