Field Methods in Marine Science
eBook - ePub

Field Methods in Marine Science

From Measurements to Models

Scott Milroy

  1. English
  2. ePUB (apto para móviles)
  3. Disponible en iOS y Android
eBook - ePub

Field Methods in Marine Science

From Measurements to Models

Scott Milroy

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Field Methods in Marine Science: From Measurements to Models is an authoritative guide of the methods most appropriate for field research within the marine sciences, from experimental design to data analysis. Written for upper-level undergraduate and graduate students as well as early-career researchers, this textbook also serves as an accessible introduction to the concepts and practice of modeling marine system dynamics. This textbook trains the next generation of field scientists to move beyond the classic methods of data collection and statistical analysis to contemporary methods of numerical modeling; to pursue the assimilation and synthesis of information, not the mere recording of data. Boxes and side bars highlight important questions, interesting facts, relevant examples, and research techniques that supplement the text. Students and researchers alike will find the thorough appendices useful as a way of expanding comprehension of fundamental concepts.

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Biologie marine


Unit 1

First Principles

Chapter 1
The Foundations of Scientific Inquiry
Chapter 2
Introduction to Statistical Inference

Chapter 1

The Foundations of Scientific Inquiry

“There can be no doubt that all our knowledge begins with experience.” – Immanuel Kant
It may seem an overly simplistic question, but very few take the time to really consider: What is science? How does the knowledge gained through scientific inquiry differ from other modes of learning, and is it appropriate to afford greater respect to the sciences? Of course, those are judgments we must each make for ourselves, but it is certainly worth our time to consider such questions honestly.
The foundations of scientific inquiry were laid by ancient mathematicians, logicians, and naturalists stretching back to the dawn of human intelligence and curiosity. Since science is, at its core, a process of learning through trial and error, it is not surprising that a rudimentary understanding of the natural world could be gleaned from evidence acquired by the ancients, using very little technology. Even today, the performance of science is not predicated by the use of expensive, highly technical equipment—good science can be performed using one’s own senses and acute intellect. But with each new discovery, scientists were able to draw upon the wisdom and experience of their predecessors to form a deeper understanding of the natural world, and use that information to guide the direction of new inquiries. But what was so critically important to learning was the very process of science itself.
Key Concepts
• Science relies upon the philosophy of empiricism, which states that neither fact nor truth can be known; we must rely instead on evidence.
• All scientific endeavors must be performed according to a strict set of rules, called the scientific method.
• The scientific method does not guarantee accuracy or provide proof; it simply provides an ordered framework for scientific inquiry.
• In order for knowledge to be gained through scientific inquiry, it must be testable through experimentation.
• Experiments are not self-determining—they merely provide evidence that must be analyzed for significance and meaning.

The Difference Between Evidence and Truth

Truth. The concept, at its face, seems simple enough for our minds to grasp, and so we speak of it casually, as if we could demonstrate our mastery of it by being so dismissive of its real significance. But “truth” (as we so flippantly regard it) is a concept that should bring us all to our knees as we consider the awesome enormity of what that word represents. In its grandest sense, truth is represented by the sum total of the universe’s facts: integrated, unchanging, and eternal.
Figure 1.1 René Descartes (1596–1650). One of the most influential philosophers, whose works helped to establish the philosophical underpinnings of the scientific method.
Long and laboriously have philosophers struggled with the problem of truth. As it turns out, the problem is humankind’s fundamental (in)ability to learn certain truths about the universe we occupy, simply because our method of inquiry—via intellect and experience—is inherently flawed. Interestingly enough, it is not the human intellect that harbors the origin of error—it is instead the knowledge gained through experience that cannot be trusted.
The most persuasive philosophical arguments for this were offered by René Descartes, a seventeenth-century French mathematician and philosopher (Figure 1.1). In his Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes offered,
“Whatever, up to the present, I have accepted as possessed of the highest truth and certainty I have learned either from the senses or through the senses. Now these senses I have sometimes found to be deceptive; and it is only prudent never to place complete confidence in that by which we have even once been deceived.”
In other words, any evidence gained through the use of our imperfect senses must be considered suspect and never afforded absolute confidence. This philosophical axiom would at first seem to be a fatal blow to all learning. After all, if human knowledge is borne from experience, but these experiences can never be fully trusted, how then are we expected to learn anything? Is it possible to know anything prior to first experiencing it with or through our senses?
Although Descartes would have us questioning everything we can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell, he was also able to demonstrate that there is knowable truth in our universe—truth that is independent of our senses. In an oft-quoted passage from his Meditations, Descartes offers what is probably his most famous contribution to philosophy:
“If I am persuading myself of something, in so doing I assuredly exist. But what if, unknown to me, there be some deceiver, very powerful and very cunning, who is constantly employing his ingenuity in deceiving me? Again, as before, without doubt, if he is deceiving me, I exist.…Ego sum, ego existo.”
Though often mistranslated as “I think therefore I am” (rather than “I am, I exist”), the meanings are essentially the same: regardless of whether we are perceiving our universe rightly or wrongly, the mere fact that we are perceiving the universe at all requires that we exist in the first place.
This is a critically important philosophical point to make, because it establishes the human ability to know truth a priori; that is, from the beginning (without experience). Hence, if humankind is capable of knowing this truth, perhaps there are more truths that are knowable and that these truths can be used to make ourselves more perfect instruments of learning.
Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason Picks Up Where Descartes Leaves Off
Although Descartes had firmly established that existence is a necessary prerequisite for all sentient beings in the universe, it wasn’t until the late eighteenth century that a Prussian philosopher named Immanuel Kant (Figure 1.2) first published his Critique of Pure Reason and solidified the philosophical foundations necessary for scientific endeavor. The first of Kant’s critical assertions was the a priori truth of space:
Figure 1.2 Immanuel Kant (1724–1804). A pioneer in philosophical thought, particularly as it relates to the empirical sciences.
“Space is a necessary a priori representation, which underlies all outer intuitions. We can never represent to ourselves the absence of space, though we can quite well think it as empty of objects. It must therefore be regarded as the condition of the possibility of appearances, and not as a determination dependent upon them.”
Thus, Kant posits that space must exist before any observation can be made, whether that observation is made truly or falsely. Between Descartes and Kant, the necessity of existence begs the a priori representation of space (wherein all things that exist must be found).
But the true value of Kant’s work, with regard to what is knowable in the context of science, is revealed in his treatment of time and causality. In his Critique, Kant asserts,
“All appearances are in time; and in it alone … can either coexistence or succession be represented. Now time cannot by itself be perceived. Consequently, there must be found in the objects of perception … the substratum which represents time … and all change or coexistence must be perceived in this substratum, and through relation of the appearances to it.”
So, regardles...


  1. Cover
  2. Half Title
  3. Title Page
  4. Copyright Page
  5. Dedication
  6. Table of Contents
  7. Unit 1 First Principles
  8. Unit 2 Methods of Data Acquisition
  9. Unit 3 Methods of Data Analysis
  10. Unit 4 Methods of Data Assimilation (Modeling)
  11. Appendices
  12. Glossary
  13. Index
Estilos de citas para Field Methods in Marine Science

APA 6 Citation

Milroy, S. (2020). Field Methods in Marine Science (1st ed.). CRC Press. Retrieved from (Original work published 2020)

Chicago Citation

Milroy, Scott. (2020) 2020. Field Methods in Marine Science. 1st ed. CRC Press.

Harvard Citation

Milroy, S. (2020) Field Methods in Marine Science. 1st edn. CRC Press. Available at: (Accessed: 14 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

Milroy, Scott. Field Methods in Marine Science. 1st ed. CRC Press, 2020. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.