Doing Science Kevin Hogan
Allen Olson



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Week 2

This week we begin our study of the historical development of the theory of evolution. We continue our investigation of the nature of science by looking at falsifiability and a general method for evaluating scientific models. And we move into a study of probability after reviewing methods for describing data.


CGS = Cartoon Guide to Statistics by Larry Gonick and Woollcott Smith
= Understanding Scientific Reasoning by Ronald Giere (4th edition)
GC = Galileo's Commandment edited by Edmund Bolles

Before coming to class, you should have completed the following readings:

  • CGS: chapters 2-3 (see study guides)
  • USR: chapter 2
  • GC: Karl Popper (pp. 40-48)
  • Handout: 'Strong Inference' by John R. Platt

In addition, you should have completed the following exercises:


  • Exercise 2.6: A Heresy in Evolutionary Biology
  • Exercise 2.9: New Observations Reveal Cosmic Mystery
  • Exercise 2.13: The Genetics of Cancer
  • Exercise 2.14: Project -- just get started on this by trying to find a topic. You may use any of the other exercises in chapter 2 or 3 as inspiration, but locate an actual article to analyze.


  • All exercises in chapters two and three of the study guide.


  • Evolution lecture
  • Scientific reasoning seminar: Evaluating theoretical hypotheses
  • Probability: Coins, dice, cards, and other gambles (including M&M's)
  • Excel: Graphs, calculations, and functions
    Online instructions
  • Seminar: Popper and Platt

Looking ahead:

In week 3, we will look at the importance of change over time as the inspiration for the theory of evolution. We will look at several historical episodes in which theories changed. Continuing our introduction to statistical methods, we will learn about normal and binomial distributions. We will also be introduced to computer software which allows you to create dynamic models.