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Old 24th September 2021, 02:52 AM   #17
A. G. Maisey
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Join Date: May 2006
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Ariel opened his "musings" comments with a statement:-

"All scientific investigations are hypothesis driven."

The title of this thread that we are contributing to is:-

"Academic research: musings"

From these two ideas I have assumed that Ariel was thinking in a scientific and/or academic way when he wrote his comments.

Ariel's opening comments focused rather strongly on photographic data and I believe the idea or ideas behind his comments were directed at a couple of questions, that I understand to be:-

a) just how reliable are photographs of people and things from foreign places and past times in demonstrating anything of value to an understanding of those people and things that existed in those foreign places and past times?

b) even if some reliability of the photographic information can be demonstrated, is that information important?

Ariel, if my understanding of that which you have written is incorrect I would appreciate your correction. It is important to understand how a message is to be understood before a relevant response can be written.

But whether or not I do clearly understand your message, I feel inclined to write a response in any case.

Ariel's comment that "All scientific investigations are hypothesis driven" is demonstrably true.

But before the hypothesis can exist there must be a question, the hypothesis itself is not a question, although it may generate questions, a hypothesis is an assumption, or a proposition, or an educated guess that forms the basis for investigation by way of experiment, or observation, or other means with the objective to determine the truth or untruth of the assumption proposed by the hypothesis.

It is this phase of testing and investigation that is driven by the hypothesis, and this testing and investigation is that which may be termed "academic research". Prior to the construction of the hypothesis, no actual "research", as the word is understood in a scientific/academic context, was performed.

Ariel has said just this in his statement quoted above.

The addition of the adjective "academic" imparts a defined meaning to the word "research". Academic research does not necessarily imply that this "academic" research is in fact "scientific" research. Academic research implies the use of a system to investigate a defined matter with the objective of dealing with that matter, if the system used to perform the investigation is the Scientific Method, then that academic research also becomes Scientific Research.

The testing of a hypothesis might result in that hypothesis being able to be supported by things that are known, or assumed, to be fact. If this should occur, then the hypothesis has generated a principle that explains something, and that principle then can be regarded as a theory. A theory must be able to be defended, a hypothesis does not need to be defended, its reason for being is that the idea it encapsulates is something that can be questioned, investigated, and tested.

In my understanding, Ariel has attempted to gently demonstrate that all "research" is not "scientific/academic research", and in any case the results that might be produced even from "scientific/academic research" are not necessarily important.

In other words, all "research" is not equal, nor for that matter is it sufficiently important to be necessary.

However, this Forum does not present itself as an academic nor as a scientific Forum. My own understanding of the character of this Forum is that it is a place for discussion. That discussion might be based upon "research" as research is understood in general or colloquial terms. The discussion that ensues from this non-scientific research could perhaps generate a question that leads to the construction of a hypothesis, which in turn might eventually produce a principle and that principle could well become a theory.

As I have previously stated, I am not an academic, nor am I a scientist. My own profession is principally concerned with analysis and the identification of risk. In exercise of this capacity I have been employed by academics, scientists, and others to identify risk and flaws in work that they have done, work that they are now doing, and work which they wish to undertake in the future. Part of the system upon which practice of my profession is based is the gathering of information, this is the initial phase of any investigation or analysis. If I consider this Forum and the discussions that take place here, I come to the opinion that it is firmly fixed into the information gathering phase of any further investigation into the topics discussed. Those discussions can sometimes become a foundation stone in an investigation.

As a part of information gathering, I would suggest that the comments posted to discussions in this Forum do not need to be either scientific or academic in nature.

As to how important something might be, well, to determine that we probably need to place the concept of "importance" into its related context:- things that are important to a person, or to a field of knowledge, could well be totally unimportant to another person, or field of knowledge.

It is absolutely certain that academic research and the related scientific method of investigation have a place in the world at large, but I wonder how much of a place either might have in a Forum that to me, appears to be dedicated to ongoing, open discussion.
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