måndag 28 september 2015

Comments post-seminar 2

  1. http://alexisdm2572.blogspot.se/2015/09/theme-2-post-seminar_21.html?showComment=1443429313243#c6336220598137034413
  2. http://gamlagreker.blogspot.se/2015/09/theme-2-reflection.html?showComment=1443429810398
  3. http://vadfinnsegentligen.blogspot.se/2015/09/theme-2-reflection.html?showComment=1443431043101#c2981488053957800246
  4. http://pargman420.blogspot.se/2015/09/post-reflection-2.html?showComment=1443432456901#c933158526271414341
  5. http://dm2572rberggre.blogspot.se/2015/09/theme-2-after.html?showComment=1443433839896

Post-seminar 3

For this week I prepared by reading the material and finding a research paper in a journal to examine. I also spent some time discussion the concept theory with comrades taking the course which I felt was really helpful for all of us in understanding the concept. At the time of making my first blog post I felt quite sure of the concept of theory as well as identifying theory in the paper I had chosen.

At first I felt unsure whether I would get so much out of the seminar, and while it didn’t really enhance my understanding of theory, I had a really interesting discussion in my group.

We mainly touched on theory and “truth”, which also was discussed in the larger group at the seminar. To me, a theory can be true, but we can never really know if the theory is true since observed occurances can also be a series of exceptions leading one to maybe propose a limited or wrong theory, and we are also limited in our observations by our senses and our mind as discussed in previous seminars.

This also is interesting to me since it leads to the question: can we really ever say that a theory can be true? Since we are limited by our on faculties of knowledge, can we ever propose a theory that can be true, regardless of whether the observed occurances are true or not? Is it a possibility for the human being to formulate a theory that can be true and to what extent?

As stated in the lecture concerning theory, a theory can be considered or be accepted as truth if a majority of experts in the field have tested and accepted it. So even though we can never really objectively consider it as truth, it can be accepted as truth. And indeed, theories that we now consider false have once been considered true, such as the universe revolving around the earth.

One simple explanation of theory is that theory is proposed answer to why an observed phenomena, behavior or occurance has occured. We discussed that if this is true, then how do theories such as quantum physics and string theory fit into this definition since they do not depend on perhaps immediately observable behavior. We concluded that they rely on other theories that in length depend on observable behavior. And all kinds of theories do depend on other theories. Our seminar leader challenged us to find a theory that does not depend or build upon other theories, which I still haven’t.

One subject that was often the topic of our discussions was mathematics, and if mathematics could be considered theory. Since mathematics is synthezised a priori knowledge, it has to depend on learning it first. We concluded that within mathematics there are theories. You need to have theory to make a proof, but unlike observed occurances in the external reality, once a proof is formulated, it can be considered true. Although it can only be true if the fundamentals of mathematics are true, the axioms. So how do we know they are true? Here we were unsure how to continue the discussion, much like Theaetetus and Socrates.

fredag 25 september 2015

Pre-seminar 4

The paper I chose is called Undermining the Corrective Effects of Media-Based Political Fact Checking? The Role of Contextual Cues and Naïve Theory and examines how people react to a certain misperception when they are corrected, that is if they still believe it to be true, treat it with skepticism or believe it to be true.

  1. Which quantitative method or methods are used in the paper? Which are the benefits and limitations of using these methods?

This paper based its measurements largely on a questionnaire with likert scale answers, but with different numbers of scale steps for the participant to chose from for different answers.

There are some limitations to using likert scale for measuring, mainly that a likert scale implies that there is an equal distance between the steps, while that may not always be the case when using them, for example when using them with a statement that can be answered with “strongly disagree” up to “strongly agree”. There has been critique whether it is possible

Some say that since the incremental steps are not always equal, it would be a better measurement to show the median value instead of the mean value when analysing answers from likert scales. However I feel the scales in this paper have steps with equal distance between them and that the use of mean is therefore a good measurement, though I would’ve liked to see the median as well.

  1. What did you learn about quantitative methods from reading the paper?

The quantitative methods used in this paper were largely used to easily chart trends based on certain base conditions for each group in the experiment. For this kind of usage, quantitative data is very handy, but there are also some limitations. Quantitative data in the form of questionnaires tend to border on qualitative data, except that they themselves define the questions and leave little room for the participant to reflect freely on what they themselves felt was relevant during the study.

  1. Which are the main methodological problems of the study? How could the use of the quantitative method or methods have been improved?

The character of the study in the paper makes it harder to improve much upon quantitative methods in it. Since the paper investigates peoples reactions, it is hard to treat the information more quantitatively than it already is, according to me. That would change the nature of the study too much.

The paper Drumming in Immersive Virtual Reality tries to answer whether when we perceive a new virtual body, different from our own, it will affect our behavior and attitudes. The study tested the performance of groups of participants when drumming in a virtual reality world with regard to a new perceived body of diffrent connotations. One body was light-skinned and with a formal attire and the other was dark-skinned and more casually dressed. The data was gathered through a questionnaire as well as through registered movement data from the participants of the two groups.

Quantitative data is tells us something that we have observed in a more objective way than qualitative data might. However, as we’ve found out earlier in the course, observing quantitative data is not entirely objective, but depends on the perceiver. In the paper the quantitative data largely is the movement data collected from the participants and the answers from the questionnaire. The movement data from participants is quantitative and can therefore conform to charts and maths, which give us an easy way to chart trends for example. We can see if this data is converging towards a certain value or if there’s no correlation between data sets for example. With the movement data we can measure the performativity of the participants of the different groups and draw a conclusion whether they are similar or differ from each other.

The answers from the questionnaire deal in part with what the participants experienced during the experiment, but are defined in a very quantifiable way in the form of Likert scales. When the participants answer the statements on a graded scale we can quantify it in some way (though there is some controversy surrounding this with Likert scales as stated above) and use it to chart trends. However, how can we know that different persons grade the scale equally. A 5 on a scale of 10 does not have to have equal value to what another person considers a 5 to be on that scale.

Qualitative methods in contrast to quantitative methods give a much more nuanced view on what’s being researched. Here there is room for new perspectives that might lead to new insight in the subject. Of course it is not as easily quantifiable and therefore hard to say what it means and if the data has been interpreted correctly by the researcher.

måndag 21 september 2015

Comments Post-seminar 1

  1. http://alexisdm2572.blogspot.se/2015/09/theme-1-post-seminar.html?showComment=1442827291824#c2440905596862840636
  2. http://dm2572lisa.blogspot.se/2015/09/theme-1-reflection-post.html?showComment=1442827886603#c9084849324754871654
  3. http://butlikewhyisit.blogspot.se/2015/09/theme-1-reflection.html?showComment=1442828516776#c7827035730182949061
  4. http://theoandmeth.blogspot.se/2015/09/reflection-of-theme-1.html?showComment=1442829090237#c673280444264721028
  5. http://thetheoryabouteverything.blogspot.se/2015/09/post-theme-1-reflection.html?showComment=1442829917674

söndag 20 september 2015

Post-seminar 2

To prepare for this seminar I read the required texts, though I admit I did not really understand them all too well when I first read them. I also tried to find more texts about them to make sure if I understood them correctly, however I did not get to much out of that.

We also had a lecture on the texts which I really felt help me get the text into a context. That context wasn’t really evident as I first read the texts although I knew they were written around the second world war and were probably colored by that fact.

I felt I got the most out of the seminar, since I didn’t get all the questions quite right for my first blog post. A lot of these got straightened out at the seminar.

Firstly we discussed nominalism, which I did get right the first time, but we discussed it in contrast to Platonic realism. While nominalism rejects the existence of universals, Platonic realism instead sees the world as objects that are kind of copies or shadows of the real objects, which are the universals. The objects we perceive in the world are copies from the mold of the true object, which we cannot perceive as it is abstract.

We also discussed how nominalism is based a lot on observation of the world, that we perceive everything as individual and different from everything else. Nominalism and enlightenment are closely linked since both focus on the physical matter and obeservation of objects.

Adorno & Horkheimer contest that a nominalist position can be a dangerous one. If we simply just observe what we see, we will not question what is in the world and never think that things could be different. There will be no potential for change in the world unless we adopt a more conceptualist position. The nominalistic point of view is related to facism where the hierarchy is determined by nature and things are as they are with no question to change them.

We also discussed the revolutionary potential that exists in culture according to Benjamins text and in relation to Adorno & Horkheimer’s. Benjamin explains that movies, but also all other types of reproducible media makes it possible for the working class to be a part of the media. Factory workers can now be portrayed in the cinema as well as star in films. This gives a sort of dignity to them according to Benjamin. Adorno & Horkheimer adopt a more pessimistic view and state that mass media simply portrait things as they are, like a more nominalistic position, where we see things as they are and come to accept them that way. The mass media mirrors the everyday existance and does not show any alternatives to life, therefore it does not really have any revolutionary potential in the same way as Benjamin contests.

We also discussed historical perception and wether there is such a thing as good or bad art. It is Benjamins point of view that there is no such thing as good or bad art, because we are all slaves to our own context which determines how we perceive the art. Therefore facisms’ idea that there is an inherently good art and bad art is wrong.

A new thing I realised about aura at the seminar was when we discussed that german facism used aura in a similar way with its Führer cult. Benjamin sees a revolutionary potential in destroying the aura by use of reproducible culture.

fredag 18 september 2015

Pre-seminar 3

The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America is a scientific journal dedicated to studies of sound in a broad context. Research in the journal focuses on different disciplines such as psychoacoustics, aeroacoustics, underwater sound, bioacoustics, architectural acoustics and many more. The journal has an impact factor of 1.555 as of writing.

The paper I chose is called Noise in an Intensive Care Unit and investigates the noise in two different intensive care units (ICUs) in Germany and what impact this has on the staff. The theoretical frame of this research is psychoacoustics and its aim is to present a basis for charting the noise situation in hospitals in Europe and in length take steps to reduce noise in hospitals for the benefit of both patients and staff.

The study was comprised of one survey of the staff and complemented with measurements of the noise level in the ICUs to compare it with recommendations from EPA (American Environmental Agency) and WHO (World Health Organization) concerning both sound levels for resting as well as working.

The study showed that staff feels negatively affected by the noise level and that the noise levels are above the recommended levels for working in an hospital environment.

Briefly explain to a first year university student what theory is, and what theory is not

Theory deals with why some observed behavior is observed. The logical argumentation as to why something has happened. If we were to explain why a rock falls when we let go of it, the theory behind that would for example be that gravity acts as a downward thrusting force on the object and that when we let go, no other significant force is holding it in place.

Sutton & Staw tried to define theory rather by investigating what theory was not (Sutton & Staw, 1995). In this they concluded that references, diagrams, lists of variables, data and hypotheses are not theory in themselves. These are instead tools that help the researcher define a theory, but can not constitute theory in themselves.

It's easy to reference the work of another researcher, but to have theory means that we need to explain why the work is relevant and how the findings in that work relate to a logical argumentation in this study.

Describe the major theory or theories that are used in your selected paper. Which theory type can the theory of theories be characcterized as?

The theories of the paper comprises of presenting the fact that noise in hospitals has been increasing since 1960’s and is explained by the fact that there are many more medical devices that make noise today in cojunction with walls in hospitals generally being very sound-reflective. This theory fits in with the type explanatory theory which Gregor states in his text The Nature of Theory in Information Systems (Gregor, 2006) since it both explains and points to a causal relationship between more medical devices and sound-reflective surfaces as cause for more noise in hospitals.

Another important theory in the article is the claim that the lower noise levels in one of the measured rooms was likely due to there being fewer medical devices there than in the other room. This theory also holds up as a explanatory theory since it explains why the noise level is lower and further contests the causal relationship between amount of medical devices and noise levels.

In some parts of the text, the theory is missing or rather weak, where the authors simply reference earlier work instead of explaining why frequency composition of noise has a negative impact on people for example.

Which are the benefits and limitations of using the selected theory or theories?

Both of these theories gives the research deeper insight into what’s causing the the high noise levels in hospitals and though that opens up for discussion and reflection around how noise levels can be lowered. For example by designing the devices to be more silent.

However, none of the theories puts the noise level of devices into relation with the noise made by staff or the enhancment of the noise levels by the reflecting surfaces. Therefore stating that lowered noise levels is caused by less medical devices is not evident.

Gregor, S. (2006). R Esearch E Ssay. MIS Quarterly, 30(3), 611–642. Retrieved from http://heim.ifi.uio.no/~petterog/Kurs/INF5220/NatureofTheoryMISQ.pdf
Sutton, R. I., & Staw, B. M. (1995). ASQ Forum What Theory is Not. Administrative Science Quarterly, 40(3), 371–384. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2393788

måndag 14 september 2015

Post-seminar - Theme 1

For this first seminar I prepared of course by reding all the reading material, and by reading other works about the material since it didn't always feel evident what information was relevant in the texts. I also attended the lecture which I thought gave a lot of clarification both by putting the texts into a context that made more sense (more sense than simply the name of the theme gave) and by highlighting the important concepts as well as the progress that these texts gave our conception of knowledge.

I felt that I got the most out of this theme in the seminar though. We went through Kant’s reflections in the excerpt of A Critique of Pure Reason very thoroughly and though I felt like I understood most of the important concepts before the seminar, I got out a lot more of it in the seminar.

We discussed synthesized a priori knowledge like the knowledge of maths and how you don’t have to test that 1 + 1 = 2, you can now that that will always be true once you understand the concept of maths. Based on that we started discussing in what way you learn these, and touched upon the categories that Kant described as universal for all people and how we use them to gain knowledge. These categories are the fundamental properties by which we gain knowledge. All people have these a priori knowledge according to Kant.

We did not touch much upon Theaetetus as we saw much more value in Kant’s A Critique of Pure Reason than we did in Theaetetus. In the seminar however, we touched upon how we see the world “through the eyes” rather than “with the eyes” as Socrates states in Theaetetus. That is we cannot perceive the world objectively, our perception will always be be colored by the mind. Our faculties of knowledge limits us from perceving the world objectively. However it is Kant’s belief that we can gain objective knowledge of the external reality, but only by trying to understand how our faculties of knowledge work. This is where Kant’s categories come into place, these are the tools we use to gain knowledge.

One point I think is very interesting which was brought up in the seminar was that truly objective knowledge would be perceiving the world from “God’s point of view”. God’s point of view would be that of complete perception of the external reality and of complete understanding of what is there, i.e. complete a posteriori knowledge. In this way we would perceive the world exactly as it is, but for us that is impossible. We are limited both by our senses and our mind.

torsdag 10 september 2015

Pre-seminar - Theme 2

For this seminar we’ve read Adorno and Horkheimer’s “Dialectic of Enlightenment” and Walter Benjamin’s “The work of art in the age of technical reproductivity”.

The dialectic of enlightenment deals largely with enlightenment as a concept. In it they relate that enlightenment can be seen as de-mystifying a concept. In the earliest times concepts that were beyond the reach of understanding were explained with religion or myth. When man reaches enlightenment on the concept, that is when man grasps how it works, it loses its magic and instead becomes something very static. Enlightenment as a whole takes all concepts and strives to explain them in a very undramatic fashion, such as numbers, according to the authors.

The word Dialectic seems to have had many different meanings through the ages, but common for all of them is that different arguments are posed against each other for the reason of reaching new insight in the subject at hand.

Nominalism as I understand it says that universals (a type, property or relation) or abstract objects do not exist other than nominally, by name. I’m honestly not sure how this relates to Adorno and Horkheimer’s text as of yet.

I think that the myth is to Adorno and Horkheimer to project a point of view on objects or phenomena as living. So when we reach enlightenment on how these things work, we tend to remove that life from the object or phenomena, we instead choose to describe it in a way that is far removed from something living, for example with numbers.

The other text, “The work of art in the age of technical reproductivity” largely dwells on how art has changed people and politics after the transition from art as unique objects to being reproducible.

Benjamin begins by talking about the relation between “superstructure” and “substructure”, which is a Marxist concept where the substructure explains the relations of production in the society; that is the relations between employers, employees, labor and products. This substructure defines the superstructure, which is culture, political power relations among other things. 

Benjamin shows that culture and art can have revolutionary potential. He contests foremostly that film give people a way to form habits when absent-mindedly watching. These habits focus on solving tasks and depend on the film. Benjamin states that "art will tackle the most difficult and most important ones (tasks) where it is able to mobilize the masses". Apart from this he also relates that western film rarely uses this potential, but that “We do not deny that in some cases today’s films can also promote revolutionary criticism of social conditions, even of the distribution of property”.

Adorno and Horkheimer claim that entertainment “…is sought by those who want to escape the mechanized labor process so that they can cope with it again”. This is closely related to how Benjamin saw film as a way of absent-mindedly taking in art, and in that way may take on a revolutionary potential as stated above.

In one part of the text Benjamin tells us that our sense perception not only depends on nature, but also on a historical perspective. Here he cites the late Roman art industry and the Vienna Genesis as not only producing new art, but also changing the sense perception of the people of that time. However I fail to find any good argument for this in the text.

Benjamin uses the concept “aura” a lot in the text. Benjamin defines the aura as what is lost when an art object is reproduced. It loses a sort of uniqueness and authenticity. A natural object has a kind of aura where we instead perceive it as the “unique phenomenon of distance” according to Benjamin, and that it is our desire to bring it closer to us spatially and humanly. I feel that we want the same with an art object; we want to feel closer to it in understanding it but also physically.

söndag 6 september 2015

Theme 1 - Pre-seminar reflection

The red thread through both texts is the quest for a definition of knowledge. While Plato’s Theaetetus dialogue does not reach a conclusion on what knowledge is, it reaches conclusions on what knowledge is not. In the text Theaetetus proposes to Socrates that knowledge is sense perception. However, if knowledge is perception, then how can knowledge be detained for example if one would close their eyes and ears? Having memory of what is known proves that perception cannot be knowledge since we can know something even when we do not perceive it.

In more recent times, Immanuel Kant wrote his Critique of Pure Reason, which also strives to learn something new about the nature of knowledge. Kant relates a distinction between two types of knowledge: a priori knowledge, which is a form of universal knowledge independent of our experiences, such as knowledge of mathematics, and a posteriori knowledge, which is knowledge we gain from experience, such as the taste of sugar. A posteriori knowledge is closely related to empiricism, concepts formed from our experiences.

When Kant states that we must turn around and stop assuming that our cognition must conform to objects and instead assume that objects conform to our cognition, I believe he means that our sensory perceptions of the external reality need to be understood as being translated by our minds. That objects in the external reality cannot be perceived in an absolute way no matter how much we try, they will always be distorted in some way by the mind based on our previous experiences. To get some true information about these objects from the external reality, we need to know how our cognition translates the information we perceive.

It is Kant’s belief that to reach new knowledge in the field of metaphysics, the science beyond the senses, we must approach knowledge from a new perspective where we instead focus on how the mind treats the information we receive through our senses. This relates very much to Socrates dissection of knowledge in Theaetetus where he states that we do not see “with”, but instead “through” the eyes and ears. I think this goes along the lines of Kant’s reasoning where we acknowledge that sensory perception is inseparable with our cognition and that we cannot perceive anything without in some way shaping it in our mind. This is related to empiricism because our mind shapes the information we receive from our senses based on our previous experience, the a posteriori knowledge.