Final Project – Knowing Nature
The final project is a chance to apply ideas from the class in greater detail. This is primarily a writing assignment, but it is not quite “a paper.”
Research another controversy that involves science in some way and apply concepts from class to analyze that controversy
Critically analyze a science-related debate we did not discuss directly in class, using the concepts from class.Analyze a contemporary science-related controversy or pseudoscience topic that we did not study in class. I choose -Genetically modified foods
1. An annotated bibliography summarizing and commenting critically on at least three serious, credible research sources relevant to your topic. Each individual annotations should be between 70 and 125 words. What is an annotated bibliography? Please read this: https://sites.umuc.edu/library/libhow/bibliography_tutorial.cfm
(please choose three serious sources, each of sources write about 70-100 words)
A 400-500 word Analysis applying concepts and ideas from this class to the topic that you picked. A list of some of these ideas is at the end of this handout. You should not try to address all of them, but you should seek and draw out connections between themes and vocabulary from class and ideas in your research and thinking (no quoted text).
3. A ~250-300 one-paragraph Summary of what you did and what you learned, which will be put in a shared google document visible to the whole class, which we will go through in the final class session as a group.
List of ideas from the class that you draw from in your final project:
– nuanced distinctions between the practice, products, and application of science;
– problems with the definition of the concept “nature” and how we relate to “nature” as humans
– uniformitarianism (in the generalized sense that we discussed)
– all observation is mediated by instruments and all data requires interpretation
– the three types of uncertainty
– randomness and the conceptual mistakes we often make interpreting it
– percentages and managing large numbers;
– “spurious correlations” and the difference between correlation and causation
– the “blade of grass” paradox
– falsifiability as a key criterion for defining what counts as science
– Popper’s ideas about the differences between the value of confirmatory and conflicting evidence
– “essentialism” in biology
– the naturalistic fallacy
– the key tactics used in science denial
– the nature of a scientific theory
– bias in the scientific process.
5. Your one-paragraph summary conveys your key questions and conclusions clearly and completely. [15 points]
6. Your annotated bibliography includes good quality research sources, demonstrates your comprehension of those sources, and includes thoughtful contextual analysis and/or commentary on the content. [20 points]
7. The write-up is structured well. An introductory paragraph advances the key claim or question behind your project, and successive paragraphs address supporting points in a manner that flows logically from one idea to the next. [15 points]
8. Your writing is clear and well-edited, and includes formal citations to your research sources where appropriate. [15 points]
9. Your writing successfully addresses the criteria supplied in this handout for the option you have picked. [15 points]
10. Your writing successfully draw from core themes of in-class discussion as they relate to your topic. [20 points]
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