Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

Reality Test 2–How has my thinking gone wrong?

Posted by Ann on June 27, 2010

2) The act of observing changes what we are observing

Simply by studying an event, we can change it. For instance, when social scientists conduct research the behavior of the subjects may be altered simply by the fact they are being observed by someone from outside their social or cultural group. Subjects of experiments are also known to change their normal behaviors when they know of the hypothesis being tested–thus the use of controls for observation bias. Lack of controls in research is a classic way thinking goes wrong in pseudosciences, such as in the study of the paranormal (incl. miracles and prayer). Legitimate science addresses observation bias issues by using blind or double-blind experiments. In double-blind experiments, the researcher is also blinded to avoid confirmation bias (favoring the information that confirms what they already think or believe regardless of whether it’s the truth).

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