Understanding Textual & Non-Textual Scientific Presentations

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  • 0:01 Sharing Scientific Information
  • 1:11 Learning the Lingo
  • 2:11 Analytical Analysis
  • 4:17 Non-Textual Presentations
  • 6:18 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Friedl

Sarah has two Master's, one in Zoology and one in GIS, a Bachelor's in Biology, and has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.

In order to understand science, you have to know science. This knowledge includes understanding the various ways that scientific information may be presented as well as how to critically analyze that information.

Sharing Scientific Information

'Science' is a pretty big word. It encompasses many different fields, like physics, chemistry and biology, but also different mathematics, and even social sciences like psychology and sociology.

The word 'science' comes from the Latin word for knowledge, and this is very fitting because scientists are interested in gaining knowledge about our world. Some scientists, like biologists, are interested in learning about life and its processes, while physical scientists are interested in learning about the atoms and chemicals that make those processes possible.

No matter what type of science you study, one of the most important things that all good scientists do is share their knowledge. I mean, what's the point of knowing things if you keep all that information to yourself?

Sharing information also reduces redundancy. When scientists share their knowledge with each other, this information provides a foundation for new knowledge to build upon. New experiments and hypotheses can be tested based on common scientific knowledge, which only helps us learn more about the natural world around us.

Learning the Lingo

Sounds easy enough, right? A scientist performs experiments, learns new things, and then shares that knowledge with the rest of the world. Unfortunately, it's not so straightforward. Science is full of technical terms, symbols, and statistical analyses. On top of this, there are numerous ways to present scientific information - in a written report, on a graph, in a table, or perhaps even an illustrated diagram.

It's in this way that science is much like a new language that you have to learn. In order to understand what scientists are saying, you have to familiarize yourself with the terms, processes, and types of presentations that they will share that information through.

The good news is that once you learn the language it becomes much easier to interpret scientific presentations. Building a baseline of scientific knowledge gives you the skills to understand what is being stated in both text and non-text presentations.

Analytical Analysis

Analyzing scientific presentations is really no different than what you've been asked to do in other classes. For example, you've probably read some classic novels like Catcher in the Rye or The Great Gatsby and I bet even some of Shakespeare's plays.

Sometimes, especially with things like Shakespeare, you have to dig a little deeper and make sure you understand what is being read. You may even have to read it several times to make sure you fully understand what the author is trying to convey. Scientific presentations are no different. If you're reading a journal article, for example, you may have to re-read some passages several times to make sure you understand what the author is saying. Scientific writing is much more technical than literature or plays, but that doesn't mean that scientific authors don't use their own writing style when conveying information.

This type of analytical thinking is very important because it keeps scientists honest when they are presenting information. If they omit key points from their methods, who knows what they actually did? Do you know for sure that they performed their experiment properly? If they don't present their full results, how do you know what they actually found? And if they do, do you agree with their conclusions or did you interpret their results differently? Are there any other possible outcomes that could have occurred? And most importantly, does it all make sense?

The best part about science is that it's okay to disagree! In fact, disagreements can be really important. Galileo disagreed with many of the 'scientific' findings of his time and often came to his own conclusions through his experiments. He is now considered one of the most influential people in scientific history and was even called 'The Father of Modern Science' by Albert Einstein. But Galileo's disagreements with the Church led to his works being banned for a long time, even though they were more factually and experimentally based. Imagine if Galileo had kept his mouth shut instead of disagreeing - our world would be a far different place!

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