Reading #1 Introduction to Science

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Reading #1

Introduction to Science

The Scientific Method and Exercise Physiology

As the academic discipline of exercise physiology emerged, so also developed research strategies for objective measurement and problem solving, and the need to report discoveries of new knowledge. For the beginning exercise physiology student, familiarization with the methods of science helps to separate fact from “hype” - most often encountered in advertising about an endless variety of products sold in the health, fitness, and nutrition marketplace. How does one really know for sure whether a product really works as advertised? Does warming up really “warm” the muscles to prevent injury or enhance subsequent performance? Will breathing oxygen on the sidelines during a football game really help the athlete recover? Do vitamins “supercharge” energy metabolism during exercise? Will creatine, chromium, or vanadium supplements add muscle mass during resistance training? Understanding the role of science in problem solving can help to make informed decisions about these and many other questions. The following section examines the goals of science, including different aspects of the scientific method of problem solving.

General Goals of Science

The two distinct goals of science often seem at odds. One goal aims to serve mankind, to provide solutions to important problems, and improve life’s overall quality. This view of science, most prevalent among nonscientists, maintains that all scientific endeavors should exhibit practicality and immediate application. The opposing view, predominant among scientists, maintains that science should describe and understand all occurrences without necessity for practical application - understanding phenomena becomes a worthy goal in itself. The desire for full knowledge implies being able to:

  • Account for (explain) behaviors or events

  • Predict (and ultimately control) future occurrences and outcomes.

Regardless of one’s position concerning the goal of science, its ultimate aims include:

  • Explanation

  • Understanding

  • Prediction

  • Control

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