BHS 323 Writing Exercise #13

  • Can experiments detect differences that matter?
    • It is important to consider if the experimental design produces relevant results.
    • When reading scientific literature, it is also important to consider if the claim the author is making fundamentally connects with the results that the experiment produced.
  • Does the study show causation or correlation?
    • Correlation is a quantitative number that describes the size and direction a variable affects another. This does not mean that the change in one variable is the direct result of the other.
    • Causation means that the results of one event is directly caused by another.
    • Language of scientific literature must be examined carefully because correlation and causation cannot be used interchangeably.
  • What is the mechanism?
    • Often times correlation implies some sort of relationship between the two variables however scientists do not always know the reason.
    • When reading scientific literature, it is important to question the mechanism and why the subject could or could not be behaving a certain way
  • How much do experiments reflect reality?
    • Scientists and researchers design their experiments carefully to ensure that they can draw conclusions with minimal interactions from unwanted variables.
    • In real life and biological systems/organisms specifically, many things are not controlled. Experiments may not always reflect what real life is.
    • Experiments could be too far off from what a real life situation is and readers must understand that before drawing conclusions.
  • Could anything else explain the results?
    • There are so many interactions between the environment and organisms that could affect results.
    • Some may be minor but others could affect experimental results greatly.

Although all bullet points are extremely crucial when reading articles surrounding controversial topics (and any topic that is experimental in science), I believe it is most important to consider how much the experiments reflect reality. Especially when it comes to causations that researchers are trying to prove, it is incredibly difficult to create experiments in the lab that are supposed to represent humans. Many times, a very controlled environment does not accurately represent the environments people live in. Considering if anything else could explain the results is also important. Every person is different and you cannot replicate anyone’s exact microbiome, health conditions and living conditions. There could always be another factor that could change the results than what is being investigated.

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