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In what ways may disagreement aid the pursuit of knowledge in the natural and human sciences?

I believe that disagreement between individuals is a key factor that unravels more complete knowledge about everything. We all definitely have blind spots, and the different views of people may help us in achieving greater knowledge. Despite disagreement can become somewhat out of control, the conclusions achieved are definitely worth it. I'm interested in knowing where disagreement between different theories in natural and human sciences helped in gaining knowledge.

  • Dec 4 2012: Ego is a great motivator We all want to think of ourselves as important and special..

    We all want to be the person who came up with the right answer.

    Scientific research is competitive. Many times it is just a matter of different groups racing to reach a particular answer, with little disagreement involved. But sometimes, the disagreement is like a great fireworks show, and it is impressive and fun to watch. The parties involved put all their energy and talents into a contest to be proven correct. Each party studies the past papers, conducts new research, does the math, and writes new papers This is a lot of work. When the final argument wins the contest, and the scientific community reaches consensus about new knowledge, the big winner is society. This is greatness. Humans being the best they can be.

    Most often we think of human ego negatively. It is also a big motivator toward scientific advancements.

    Disagreement is central to the process.
  • Dec 4 2012: hey just a pointer is alot of comments have been made regarding natural sciences and disagreements in that objective approach ....just remember to see all types of knowledge .. and try and refer to a subjective view if possible...
  • Dec 3 2012: Disagreement is a natural method that helps us to identify with other possibilities that may have been otherwise overlooked. This method is mainly for the ignorant. Believing in evolution I would say that it would be nice for a new “happy” method to become dominant.
  • Dec 2 2012: I think that disagreement is key to a deeper understanding in all endeavors. If we only surround ourselves with those who agree with us then we will never stretch our minds nor test our limitations. There is a difference between disagreement and hostility and one does not necessarily equate to the other. I make sure in my professional life to not surround myself with "yes" people. I need to be challenged and have others point out to me what I may not be seeing. Do I always handle the disagreement or criticism well? NO! But inevitably when I step back and breathe and realize that the other person has the best of intentions then generally I take their advice to heart. It's only taken me 40 years to reach this point :-)
  • Dec 2 2012: SO yes a good disagreement could be the whole creationism disagreement ...many people disagreedor coulsdnt accept that the world was created by an omnipotent god....this spurred scientists and theorists to create popular theories such as the discovery of evolution and big bang theory and creationsim etc ..........however i cannot find for human sciences please if anyone can help :(
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      Dec 2 2012: Why don't you pick an idea in economics, psychology, or behavioral science and do an internet search for "theories about ____?"

      I am almost certain in an IB program they want you to do your own research of this kind rather than just asking others to do that thinking for you.
      • Dec 4 2012: haha ur right im just trying all options trust me im doing my research as well ...i just wanted to see if anyone could give some pointers or any opinions on the matter!!
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    Nov 28 2012: This article and talk provide a different context for thinking about how communities engaged in learning and problem solving function to advance understand and effectiveness. This is research at MIT that identifies features of successful group learning and problem solving.

    One key is the airing of a variety of views in an open-minded way rather than over-talking of representatives of one side of an issue. Another is an adequate cohort of people in the mix who are sensitive to requirements of effective and productive discourse.

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    Nov 27 2012: IS the answer perhaps not to "disagree" but to listen to knowledge surrounding us and start exploring them for ourselves? To me if someone disagrees about something, then the knowledge they have received in life has brought them to a conclusion, and therefore may contain some validity to it. It is then up to the individual to investigate just how valid an opinion is - be it because of information I may not have yet come across, or their being misinformed. If on the other hand I disregard their opinion, am I not fooling myself into missing out some possibly vital information that may change my own opinion? I think this is where actual progress is made, when people can share information objectively, and bypass disagreement. As difficult as this can be, because oftentimes democracy doesn't necessarily work (10,000 people vote yes to eating fast food vs the 1 person who goes "Um, actually..." will win the vote), the key then is for the majority to say "Hang on, lets hear out the minority and see what we're missing".
  • Nov 26 2012: I believe this would be an accurate portrayal of perfect independent learning environment, I study, and while I do, i love to argue back and forth on topics I don't understand, even the simplest things can lead to greater discovery and a greater sense of achievement in terms of knowledge. Once during our project, we had to represent two different theories of beginning of the world, we had two different groups who researched on all the theories pertaining to the "start of the earth". We went wild with the research with our thirst to squash the others and prove the supremacy of our theory, we were all every open minded children, and thus we argued upon two different theories and did not reach one single conclusion, but opened our minds to something entirely new and unique which we were at first blind to.
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    Nov 26 2012: Feyisayo raises an important point. Disagreements bear fruit in terms of knowledge and understanding only if people are listening to each other and really considering views other than their own.
  • Nov 26 2012: When people argue about knowledge or related things, they may allow themselves to fill in the blanks from each others pools of knowledge. An easy example I know of is there are two ponds, and each can hold a certain number of fish. Say these fish represent knowledge. By themselves, the ponds may only sustain 10 fish each. However, a windstorm blows over the ponds, combining them into one larger pond that can hold 20 fish happily. This is the idea behind the fact that arguments often build knowledge. I hope this helps
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    Nov 26 2012: Yup

    Knowledge does not come about with out some upset, just the way it is.

    Gaining knowledge is a process of comparison, just the way it is.

    And the corollary if the data is not compared it does not have much value. E.G. rote memorization with no intention towards application.
    • Dec 4 2012: i really dislike your generalization of "just the way its" ....so u think no form of knowledge is gained from personal experiences of achivements or mistakes and failures in life??? Does knowledge have to be some form of empirical data etc can it now be a detail or an ability of a skill??? And mistakes many pppl learn the deep subjective values of life through experiences and mistakes in which they seem to be enlightened. ....for me although comparison is a good way to achieve knowledge it is too objective and is definitely not just the way it is..... i agree with ur example of rote memorization however what about personal data which does have sentimental value to someone it does not have to be compared for it to gain value!! maybe not to us put to that certain person it may have value.......
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        Dec 4 2012: I think you misunderstood me.

        Knowledge is all about application. Knowledge does not come about by theoretical study without any regard for application. Academics are often an example of someone who couldn't apply their education if you held a gun to their head. That is just the way it is. Objection duly noted.

        By definition knowledge is objective. The subjective part may come in to play with regards to your subjective disposition of the application of the knowledge. You know why doesn't this work or damn another failed test. btw the lubricant WD40 stands for water displacement test 40
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    Nov 26 2012: I agree that it is useful to engage with thoughtful people who have a different perspective because of different knowledge and life experiences. People have access to different evidence and see different things in bodies of evidence.

    In science, different scientists may examine how well the same body of data supports different theories, but also different scientists may test a single theory using different bodies of data. Both practices serve either to strengthen their findings if the different approaches converge on the same result or to weaken the conclusion if the different approaches yield different results. Either way, different angles advance understanding.

    Comparing notes will also make it more likely that we find our mistakes or perhaps bring to light biases we had not recognized in ourselves.
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      Nov 26 2012: If you don't mind Can you please give some examples where disagreement aid knowledge in natural and human sciences.
      • Nov 26 2012: Well, right now, I can't specifically come up with any of examples, but I believe, sooner or later, we'll see lots of examples 'where disagreement aid knowledge in natural and human sciences' on TED conversations or TED debates. TED is a great place where we can foster that kind of environment.
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        Nov 26 2012: I am guessing this might be a project for school? What have you found by an internet search?
        • Dec 2 2012: yes it is this whole question if for an essay for the IB programme ...the subject is Theory of Knowledge .....thisis one fo the 6 questions world wide which must be chosen to do by all IB students ....this coversation was actually quite handy seeing different views ....however i am struggling to find an example for how disagreements help in the human sciences!!! I have found for natural sciences but am stuck with subjects such as economics and psychology!!!
  • Nov 25 2012: Feyisayo expands this in what I regard as a very positive direction. To me if I am on point I would suggest this is some sort of dialectics Growth through questions and responses Maybe this is the only way various minds can work in reaching a better understanding and solutions.
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    Nov 25 2012: Disagreements between people who actually listen to each other would be helpful.
    Enlightenment comes from finding answers to the questions raised by an intelligent mind.
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      Nov 26 2012: Thanks for commenting Feyisayo I'm interested in knowing where disagreement between different theories in natural and human sciences helped in gaining knowledge.
  • Nov 25 2012: right
  • Nov 25 2012: i think you are right