Optimal thought and optimal fitness through reason, logic, science, passion, and wisdom.

Logic For Future Scientists

In this course, focused on scientists and future scientists but also for engineers or anyone who wants to know science, we will learn logic and the logic of science by studying actual science, scientific successes & failures, and the history of science.

Enroll on Outschool or contact me to set up a course for yourself, a group, a school, or a company.

A Master Class in Logic. We will learn some critical logic and epistemology that you need to do science well and to understand it, but that is rarely taught. A course that would benefit any future or present scientist, or any future or present teacher of science, of any level.

This is an essential, important course for you to do well in your future career as a scientist or as someone interested in science. You will not or will rarely find this info anywhere else.

We will learn some aspects of good science from specific examples through history so you can better understand science, practice it in everyday life, and start to recognize good science and “bad science.” The topic of scientific method is broad and deep — including forming concepts, finding causes, using induction, constructing theories, measuring, using evidence, experimentation, using the correct instrument, deduction, etc. — so we cannot cover everything, but we can cover some important basics. You will learn why it is inductive, not deductive.

What is science? How does it work? What is experimentation? How does it work? How do you differentiate “bad science” from “good science?” How can you not waste your whole career, but spend time doing something productive and real? What makes for effective, efficient thinking?

Enroll on Outschool or contact me to set up a course for yourself, a group, a school, or a company.

Chief topics covered to achieve those goals and answer those questions:

  1. Q&A and independent thought: thinking as asking and answering questions; knowing and understanding vs. memorizing words
  2. Concretes & concepts: keeping thinking real, keeping it efficient
  3. Definition: knowing what we are talking about; getting to the essence of something
  4. Classification: keeping our minds flexible, organized, and adaptable
  5. Induction: drawing meaningful conclusions on our own and checking other people’s
  6. Integration: making our knowledge useful and keeping everything connected

What we can cover depends in part on the background and interests of the students in class, but we will learn about the nature and the logic of science. We will learn a bit about how science really works, to help us clear up some confusions and keep ourselves from getting confused in the first place.

We will use a combination of lecture, interactive discussion, Q&A, homework, and in-class work. Be prepared to think, to learn, and to have new horizons open up. Come prepared to listen, take notes, interact, and learn.

Enroll on Outschool or contact me to set up a course for yourself, a group, a school, or a company.

Tentative schedule (will be tailored to the class participants’ level and interests)
Week 1: Thinking for yourself and Q&A.

Day 1.
Intro. Scope and aims of course: what we will cover, and what we will not. What is science. Science vs. nonscience: examples. Being scientific about science. What the history of science and the history of philosophy teach us. The need for logic. What logic is. Defining truth and knowledge. A few knowledge issues in science. Reason RX: repairing broken hierarchy, faulty generalizations, poorly formed concepts.

Day 2.
Getting down to basics: thought and thinking. Memorizing words or following authority vs thinking and knowing. Independent thought. Logic. The evidence of the senses; their validity. Bernd Heinrich: to reject all anecdotes is also to reject facts. We live in an ordered world in which things have a nature, they act, and they have cause-and-effect relationships. Similarity and difference. Content: it’s about reality.

Feynman scene from Infinity. Feynman on independent thought and keeping up with others’ research.

Authority versus omniscience. Neither Galileo nor Einstein were not right on everything. Humans are social animals; that affects what some believe; you need to be careful with this as a scientist. Spock as illogical. Sherlock homes as using more than deduction.

Day 3.
Thought revisited. Denial is not argument. Science is not negation. Using Q&A. What questions to ask. Digging into the questioning process and its uses. Keeping a question and thought notebook. Curiosity is greater than skepticism. Practice and exercises from science and its history.

Week 2: Q&A, and concepts and concretes

Day 1.
Q&A revisited. Thinking as Q&A. The Five Whys. How do you know? Stages of learning. Content: it’s about reality. Practice and exercises from science and its history.

Level one of working through examples selected from (but not limited to): science, scientist, experiment, knowledge, learning, thinking, understanding, logic, force, motion, acceleration, projectile, electricity, heat, radiation, energy, sound, atom, reaction, acid, base, lifting, jumping, running, walking, deadlift, posture, kinetic chain, forest, lake, habitat, predator, prey, food chain, food web, cell cycle, photosynthesis, number, ratio, equation, quadratic equation, sine, cosine, proof, trigonometry, limit, derivative.

We will be continuing to look at some of these examples step-by-step and in more depth as we progress in the course, even while we bring in some new examples and exercises.

Day 2.
What a concept is. How we use them. Content: it’s about reality. Meaningful concretes. How we think rationally and logically.

Level two of working through examples selected from (but not limited to): science, scientist, experiment, knowledge, learning, thinking, understanding, logic, force, motion, acceleration, projectile, electricity, heat, energy, sound, atom, reaction, acid, base, lifting, jumping, running, walking, deadlift, sport, kinetic chain, forest, lake, habitat, predator, prey, food chain, food web, cell cycle, photosynthesis, number, ratio, equation, quadratic equation, sine, cosine, proof, trigonometry, limit, derivative.

The concept of humidity. Running. Light. Reflection. Refraction. Field (magnetic, gravitational). Animal. Vegetable. Metamorphic. Planet. Health.

Day 3.
Some rules for forming concepts. Clear language needed for clear thinking. How we form concepts. Similarity and difference. Degrees of abstraction. Work through examples and exercises from science and its history.

Week 3: Concepts and concretes

Level two of working through examples selected from (but not limited to): science, scientist, experiment, knowledge, learning, thinking, understanding, logic, force, motion, acceleration, projectile, electricity, heat, energy, sound, atom, reaction, acid, base, lifting, jumping, running, walking, deadlift, sport, kinetic chain, forest, lake, habitat, predator, prey, food chain, food web, cell cycle, photosynthesis, number, ratio, equation, quadratic equation, sine, cosine, proof, trigonometry, limit, derivative.

Day 1.
Some rules for forming concepts. How we form concepts. How develop through history. How develop through your life. Work through examples and exercises from science and its history.

Day 2.
Some rules for forming concepts and how we form concepts, continued. Combining the rules. Work through examples and exercises from science and its history.

Day 3.
Some rules for forming concepts and how we form concepts, continued. Combining the rules. Work through examples and exercises from science and its history.

Week 4: Definitions 1

Level three of working through examples selected from (but not limited to): science, scientist, experiment, knowledge, learning, thinking, understanding, logic, force, motion, acceleration, projectile, electricity, heat, energy, sound, atom, reaction, acid, base, lifting, jumping, running, walking, deadlift, sport, kinetic chain, forest, lake, habitat, predator, prey, food chain, food web, cell cycle, photosynthesis, number, ratio, equation, quadratic equation, sine, cosine, proof, trigonometry, limit, derivative.

Day 1.
What a definition is. Logical definitions vs. dictionary definitions. Why they are important. How we use them. Definitions as tools of research. Formulating definitions. Context.

Day 2.
Rules of definition: genus and differentia. Work through examples and exercises from science and its history.

Running. Stream. Lake. Humidity. Light. Reflection. Refraction. Field (magnetic, gravitational). Animal. Vegetable. Metamorphic. Planet. Health.

Day 3.
Rules of definition: genus and differentia. Work through examples and exercises from science and its history.

Week 5: Definitions 2

Level three of working through examples selected from (but not limited to): science, scientist, experiment, knowledge, learning, thinking, understanding, logic, force, motion, acceleration, projectile, electricity, heat, energy, sound, atom, reaction, acid, base, lifting, jumping, running, walking, deadlift, sport, kinetic chain, forest, lake, habitat, predator, prey, food chain, food web, cell cycle, photosynthesis, number, ratio, equation, quadratic equation, sine, cosine, proof, trigonometry, limit, derivative.

Day 1.
Rules of definition: stating the essence; neither too wide nor too narrow. Work through examples and exercises from science and its history.

Day 2.
Rules of definition: stating the essence; neither too wide nor too narrow. Work through examples and exercises from science and its history.

Day 3.
Rules of definition: combining the rules. Work through examples and exercises from science and its history.

Week 6: Classification

Level four of working through examples selected from (but not limited to): science, scientist, experiment, knowledge, learning, thinking, understanding, logic, force, motion, acceleration, projectile, electricity, heat, energy, sound, atom, reaction, acid, base, lifting, jumping, running, walking, deadlift, sport, kinetic chain, forest, lake, habitat, predator, prey, food chain, food web, cell cycle, photosynthesis, number, ratio, equation, quadratic equation, sine, cosine, proof, trigonometry, limit, derivative.

Day 1.
What is classification. Why it is important. How we use it in life, learning, teaching, and education. Degrees of abstraction. Rules of classification. Work through examples and exercises from science and its history. Pizza is not a meat. Chimpanzees are not vegetarian.

Day 2.
Rules of classification: mutually exclusive, jointly exhaustive; consistent; essential characteristics. Work through examples and exercises from science and its history.

Running. Stream. Lake. Humidity. Light. Reflection. Refraction. Field (magnetic, gravitational). Animal. Vegetable. Metamorphic. Planet. Health.

Day 3.
Rules of classification: mutually exclusive, jointly exhaustive; consistent; essential characteristics. Work through examples and exercises from science and its history.

Week 7: Induction 1

Level five of working through examples selected from (but not limited to): science, scientist, experiment, knowledge, learning, thinking, understanding, logic, force, motion, acceleration, projectile, electricity, heat, energy, sound, atom, reaction, acid, base, lifting, jumping, running, walking, deadlift, sport, kinetic chain, forest, lake, habitat, predator, prey, food chain, food web, cell cycle, photosynthesis, number, ratio, equation, quadratic equation, sine, cosine, proof, trigonometry, limit, derivative. Running, stream, lake, humidity, light, reflection, refraction, field (magnetic, gravitational), animal, vegetable, metamorphic, planet, health.

Day 1.
What induction is. Induction vs. deduction. How induction (i.e., generalization) works. How inductions are formed.
Contrast. Structure. How to do it right. How develop through history. How develop through your life. Hierarchy diagrams. Induction diagrams/maps. Reduction. The evidence of the senses. Induction as prior to both experimentation and statistics. Meaningful concretes. Causality. Causal analyses. Context. Thinking Newton’s Laws should apply everywhere at all levels without context. Content: it’s about reality. The nature of things.

Day 2.
Work through examples and exercises from science and its history: Franklin on lightening as electricity.

Day 3.
Work through examples and exercises from science and its history: Franklin on heat and color; Jan Baptist van Helmont on tree growth; Boyle’s Law: volume and pressure.

Week 8: Induction 2

Level five of working through examples selected from (but not limited to): science, scientist, experiment, knowledge, learning, thinking, understanding, logic, force, motion, acceleration, projectile, electricity, heat, energy, sound, atom, reaction, acid, base, lifting, jumping, running, walking, deadlift, sport, kinetic chain, forest, lake, habitat, predator, prey, food chain, food web, cell cycle, photosynthesis, number, ratio, equation, quadratic equation, sine, cosine, proof, trigonometry, limit, derivative. Running, stream, lake, humidity, light, reflection, refraction, field (magnetic, gravitational), animal, vegetable, metamorphic, planet, health.

Day 1.
Work through examples and exercises from science and its history: all planets revolve in elliptical orbits with the sun at one focus; the size of the earth.

Day 2.
Work through examples and exercises from science and its history: all planets revolve in elliptical orbits with the sun at one focus; the distance to the moon.

Day 3.
Work through examples and exercises from science and its history: all planets revolve in elliptical orbits with the sun at one focus; the distance to the sun; Copernicus’ heliocentrism.

Week 9: Induction 3

Level five of working through examples selected from (but not limited to): science, scientist, experiment, knowledge, learning, thinking, understanding, logic, force, motion, acceleration, projectile, electricity, heat, energy, sound, atom, reaction, acid, base, lifting, jumping, running, walking, deadlift, sport, kinetic chain, forest, lake, habitat, predator, prey, food chain, food web, cell cycle, photosynthesis, number, ratio, equation, quadratic equation, sine, cosine, proof, trigonometry, limit, derivative. Running, stream, lake, humidity, light, reflection, refraction, field (magnetic, gravitational), animal, vegetable, metamorphic, planet, health.

Day 1.
Work through examples and exercises from science and its history: all planets revolve in elliptical orbits with the sun at one focus; Copernicus’ heliocentrism.

Day 2.
Work through examples and exercises from science and its history: all planets revolve in elliptical orbits with the sun at one focus; Tycho Brahe, William Gilbert, and Johannes Kepler.

Day 3.
Work through examples and exercises from science and its history: all planets revolve in elliptical orbits with the sun at one focus; Johannes Kepler.

Week 10: Integration 1

Level six of working through examples selected from (but not limited to): science, scientist, experiment, knowledge, learning, thinking, understanding, logic, force, motion, acceleration, projectile, electricity, heat, energy, sound, atom, reaction, acid, base, lifting, jumping, running, walking, deadlift, sport, kinetic chain, forest, lake, habitat, predator, prey, food chain, food web, cell cycle, photosynthesis, number, ratio, equation, quadratic equation, sine, cosine, proof, trigonometry, limit, derivative. Running, stream, lake, humidity, light, reflection, refraction, field (magnetic, gravitational), animal, vegetable, metamorphic, planet, health.

Day 1.
What cognitive integration is: connecting ideas, especially to the big picture. Why it is important. Notice that it has been in everything we’ve done! Top to bottom. Characteristic of all human knowledge. Examples of how it is not practiced as much as it should be. Examples of its use. Theory-building.

Work through examples and exercises from science and its history: William Harvey, Aristotle, and circulation; modern experiments on free will.

Day 2.
Work through examples and exercises from science and its history: the deer in the Kaibab.

Day 3.
Work through examples and exercises from science and its history: the Ideal Gas Law.

Week 11: Integration 2

Level six of working through examples selected from (but not limited to): science, scientist, experiment, knowledge, learning, thinking, understanding, logic, force, motion, acceleration, projectile, electricity, heat, energy, sound, atom, reaction, acid, base, lifting, jumping, running, walking, deadlift, sport, kinetic chain, forest, lake, habitat, predator, prey, food chain, food web, cell cycle, photosynthesis, number, ratio, equation, quadratic equation, sine, cosine, proof, trigonometry, limit, derivative. Running, stream, lake, humidity, light, reflection, refraction, field (magnetic, gravitational), animal, vegetable, metamorphic, planet, health.

Day 1.
Interdisciplinary work. Don’t have a narrow focus. Total immersion. A history of logic, science, the philosophy of science, physics, chemistry, biology. Building knowledge. Making connections. Stages of learning. Degrees of complexity. Thinking about the OODA Loop.

Work through examples and exercises from science and its history: Newton’s theory of universal gravitation.

Day 2.
Work through examples and exercises from science and its history: Darwin and evolution.

Day 3.
Work through examples and exercises from science and its history: Darwin and evolution.

Optional: energy; modern farming: a failure to integrate; Mayer and the conservation of energy; heat is a form of motion.

Week 12: Hierarchy, Context, Understanding

Day 1.
Hierarchy. What it is. Notice that it was in everything we did! Hierarchy mapping. Stages of learning. Sequencing. What builds to what builds to what. Simple tasks come together into more complex. Work through examples and exercises from science and its history.

Day 2.
Context. What it is. Notice that it was in everything we did! Our context develops. Stage of learning. Degree of abstraction. We don’t know everything. Work through examples and exercises from science and its history.

Day 3.
Understanding. What it is. Three characteristics of understanding. Measuring it. Work through examples and exercises from science and its history.

Week 13: Explanation (or continue topics in weeks 1-11 so we really understand the logic)

Day 1.
Explanation. What it is. Feynman modern text books: Feynman on using “energy” to explain — or not. Same with DNA and the periodic table. Rules of explanation. Work through examples and exercises from science and its history.

Day 2.
Rules of explanation. Analogies. Work through examples and exercises from science and its history.

Day 3.
Rules of explanation. Finding causes. Problem-solving. Error analysis. Causal analysis. Identifying a problem. Work through examples and exercises from science and its history.

Week 14: The importance of philosophy to science

Day 1.
Philosophy. What it is. History. Why and how the philosophy vs. physics fantasy developed. Bad philosophy to watch for. Bad ideas to watch for. Dawkins debate and “what is truth?”

Work through examples and exercises from science and its history: why Ptolemy wrong in astronomy and refraction; why Greeks did not discover calculus.

Day 2.
Work through examples and exercises from science and its history: Ptolemy vs. Kepler; Plato vs. Aristotle.

Day 3.
Work through examples and exercises from science and its history: Descartes and BF Skinner. Pseudoscience of Plato, Descartes, Kant, John Dewey, Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn.

Advice. Conclude course.

Enroll on Outschool or contact me to set up a course for yourself, a group, a school, or a company.

Want more motivation to take this class? Look at what even the highly regarded, academically elite Johns Hopkins University has to do for their graduate students (because, unlike some other places, they know it needs to be done).

1. “But educators at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health assert that memorization alone does not a scientist make — above all, students must be critical, creative thinkers who are honest and responsible with data. In order to train scientists as critical thinkers, the R3 Graduate Science Initiative was recently created in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology (MMI), led by director Gundula Bosch, Ph.D.” (from: https://biomedicalodyssey.blogs.hopkinsmedicine.org/2018/03/revolutionizing-with-r3-a-new-ph-d-program-seeks-to-train-scientists-as-critical-thinkers/)

2. “For their part, Casadevall and Bosch write that science education reform should result in scientists who are: (1) broadly interested, creative and self-directed, as were some scientists in the era of Louis Pasteur, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, and Linus Pauling; (2) versed in epistemology, sound research conduct and error analysis, according to the “3R” norms of good scientific practice—rigor, responsibility and reproducibility; (3) skilled in reasoning using mathematical, statistical and programming methods and able to tackle logical fallacies.” (from: https://hub.jhu.edu/2018/01/03/biomedical-science-education-reform-casadevall-bosch/)

And at what David Epstein said, in his acclaimed book Range”

1. “Science students learned the facts of their specific field without understanding how science should work in order to draw true conclusions.” –David Epstein, Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.

2. “Part of the problem, [Arturo Casadevall] argued, is that young scientists are rushed to specialize before they learn how to think. They end up unable to produce good work themselves and unequipped to spot bad or fraudulent work by their colleagues.” — David Epstein, Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

Note: the logic and philosophy of science is deep and wide, and we cannot cover it all. And some issues come up in some sciences or experiments that do not come up in others. Some biochemists need to assess whether an instrument measures what it is supposed to, or whether what is measured is a valid indicator of some other phenomenon. Some researchers need to determine if they have an actual cause-effect relationship, or whether their experimental results merely show the phenomenon of “regression to the mean.” But those are technical, abstruse issues. We will hit the logic that all scientists need, and that is fundamental to the specific, technical issues.

Note: we have many other topics in science and the history of science we could study, including but not limited to: The methods of Archimedes; Ptolemy vs. Snell in the study or refraction; Aristotle, the egg, and experimentation; discovering photosynthesis; integrating movement (locomotion, etc.) with evolution; integrating consciousness with evolution; bad sampling procedures in modern diet, postural, and exercise research; induction and logic as fundamental to statistics; animal communication; animal emotion; the physics and biomechanics of the woodpecker; science as the conceptual unraveling of the evidence of the senses; the Wolves of Yellowstone; integrating evolution after Darwin; the discovery of the EEG; the discovery or Killer Whale pods; how Goethe and others attacked Sprengel for saying that bees pollinated flowers; Thompson wrong on age of the earth; Galileo wrong that vacuum held atoms together; many wrong about S-shaped spine; many wrong on running; Galileo and music and physics; philosophic mistakes at the birth of science; induction is not merely probably; induction is not merely “a method of discovery;” Aristotle, geometry, induction, and logic; the development of science in the 1500s-1700s; Ptolemy as non-science, pre-science; characteristics of good theories; Holistic farming and ranching; “modern” farming: a mis-integration; the “modern” gym: a mis-integration; sleep science; breathing science; exercise science; experimentation in athletics; integrate experimentation into sports and exercise science; integrate physics with human movement: biomechanics; good science and Ester Gokhale: Google Authors talk; Dr. Hoffman barefoot article; integrate physics and chemistry into breathing science; Max Plank: science progresses one funeral at a time; the theory of cancer; Greek ideas: the more and the less, and the one in the many.

Enroll on Outschool or contact me to set up a course for yourself, a group, a school, or a company.

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