Nav: Home

Scientist emphasizes importance of multi-level thinking

August 17, 2017

An unusual paper "On multi-level thinking and scientific understanding" appears in the October issue of Advances in Atmospheric Sciences. The author is Professor Michael Edgeworth McIntyre from University of Cambridge, whose work in atmospheric dynamics is well known. He has also had longstanding interests in astrophysics, music, perception psychology, and biological evolution.

The paper touches on a range of deep questions within and outside the atmospheric sciences. They include insights into the nature of science itself, and of scientific understanding -- what it means to understand a scientific problem in depth -- and into the communication skills necessary to convey that understanding and to mediate collaboration across specialist disciplines.

The paper appears in a Special Issue arising from last year's Symposium held in Nanjing to commemorate the life of Professor Duzheng YE, who was well known as a national and international scientific leader and for his own wide range of interests, within and outside the atmospheric sciences. The symposium was organized by the Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP), Chinese Academy of Sciences, where Prof. YE had worked nearly 70 years before he passed away. Upon the invitation of Prof. Jiang ZHU, the Director General of IAP, also the Editor-in-Chief of Advances in Atmospheric Sciences (AAS), Prof. McIntyre agreed to contribute a review paper to an AAS special issue commemorating the centenary of Duzheng YE's birth. Prof. YE was also the founding Editor-in-Chief of this journal.

One of Professor McIntyre's themes is that we all have unconscious mathematics, including Euclidean geometry and the calculus of variations. This is easy to demonstrate and is key to understanding not only how science works but also, for instance, how music works. Indeed, it reveals some of the deepest connections between music and mathematics, going beyond the usual remarks about number-patterns. All this revolves around the biological significance of what Professor McIntyre calls the "organic-change principle".

Further themes include the scientific value of looking at a problem from more than one viewpoint, and the need to use more than one level of description. Many scientific and philosophical controversies stem from confusing one level of description with another, for instance applying arguments to one level that belong on another. This confusion can be especially troublesome when it comes to questions about human biology and human nature, and about what Professor YE called multi-level "orderly human activities".

Related to all these points are the contrasting modes of perception and understanding offered by the brain's left and right hemispheres. Our knowledge of their functioning has progressed far beyond the narrow clichés of popular culture, thanks to recent work in the neurosciences. The two hemispheres automatically give us different levels of description, and complementary views of a problem. Good science takes advantage of this. When the two hemispheres cooperate, with each playing to its own strengths, our problem-solving is at its most powerful.

The paper ends with three examples of unconscious assumptions that have impeded scientific progress in the past. Two of them are taken from Professor McIntyre's main areas of research. A third is from biology.
-end-


Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Related Perception Articles:

Algorithms can exploit human perception in graph design
Researchers have recently found an algorithmic approach to automatically improve the design of scatterplots by exploiting models and measures of human perception.
College students' perception of dietary terms could help nutrition education
Researchers from the University of Hawaii and Brigham Young University set out to determine college students' perception of the terms real meal, meal, and snack and how those perceptions might enable more effective nutrition education.
LSD alters perception via serotonin receptors
Researchers from UZH have discovered how the perception of meaning changes in the brain under the influence of LSD.
Did teen perception, use of marijuana change after recreational use legalized?
Marijuana use increased and the drug's perceived harmfulness decreased among eighth- and 10th-graders in Washington after marijuana was legalized for recreational use by adults but there was no change among 12th-graders or among students in the three grades in Colorado after legalization for adults there, according to a new study published online by JAMA Pediatrics.
Hearing with your eyes -- a Western style of speech perception
Which parts of a person's face do you look at when you listen them speak?
Linking perception to action
A neuroscientist maps brain cell activity that occurs during the delay between sensation and action.
Research shows how visual perception slows with age
When older adults tell stories, they often go off on tangents because they have trouble inhibiting other thoughts.
Can we extend healthspan by altering the perception of food?
Researchers have shown a new effect on aging via a small drug-like molecule that alters the perception of food in C. elegans.
Exploring gender perception via speech
Snap judgments of speakers' femininity or masculinity are based on acoustic information from the speakers' voices, but some vocal qualities deemed 'feminine' can overlap with acoustic cues for 'clear speech,' which is a set of changes speakers make when they suspect their listener is having difficulty hearing.
The invisible world of human perception
Perception experts have long known that we see less of the world than we think we do.

Related Perception Reading:

Perception
by Terri Fleming (Author)



'A charmingly written evocation of what might have happened to the remaining Bennet sisters. Very enjoyable' Katie Fforde, Sunday Times Number One Bestseller

Mary Bennet does not dream of marriage. Much to her mother's horror, Mary is determined not to follow in the footsteps of her elder sisters, Jane (now Mrs Bingley) and Lizzy (now Mrs Darcy). Living at home with her remaining sister, Kitty, and her parents, Mary does not care for fashions or flattery. Her hopes are simple - a roof over her head, music at the piano, a book in her... View Details


Visual Intelligence: Sharpen Your Perception, Change Your Life
by Amy E. Herman (Author)

“Sharp and original, this book should alter how readers look at the world. " —Kirkus

“This fascinating and beautifully illustrated book will make you see the world more clearly than you ever have before. And that clarity will transform how you deal with the challenges and opportunities you face every day.” — Leonard Mlodinow, author of Subliminal and The Drunkard’s Walk


How could looking at Monet’s water lily paintings help save a company millions? How can noticing people’s footwear foil a terrorist attack? How can your... View Details


Perception: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by Brian Rogers (Author)

Perception is one of the oldest and most deeply investigated topics in the field of psychology, and it also raises some profound philosophical questions. It is concerned with how we use the information reaching our senses to guide and control our behavior as well as to create our particular, subjective experiences of the surrounding world.

In this Very Short Introduction, Brian J. Rogers discusses the philosophical question of what it means to perceive, as well as describing how we are able to perceive the particular characteristics of objects and scenes such as their... View Details


The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell
by Aldous Huxley (Author)

Among the most profound and influential explorations of mind-expanding psychadelic drugs ever written, here are two complete classic books—The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell—in which Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, reveals the mind's remote frontiers and the unmapped areas of human consciousness. This new edition also features an additional essay, "Drugs That Shape Men's Minds," which is now included for the first time.

"A genuine spiritual quest. ... Extraordinary." New York Times

View Details


Phenomenology of Perception
by Maurice Merleau-Ponty (Author), Donald Landes (Translator), Taylor Carman (Translator)

First published in 1945, Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s monumental Phénoménologie de la perception signalled the arrival of a major new philosophical and intellectual voice in post-war Europe. Breaking with the prevailing picture of existentialism and phenomenology at the time, it has become one of the landmark works of twentieth-century thought. This new translation, the first for over fifty years, makes this classic work of philosophy available to a new generation of readers.

Phenomenology of Perception stands in the great phenomenological tradition of Husserl,... View Details


Perception
by Randolph Blake (Author), Robert Sekuler (Author)

Perception, 5e, by Randolph Blake and Robert Sekuler, helps students appreciate the complexity of perception, while giving them a fresh perspective on their own seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting. This thoroughly revised Fifth Edition includes updated research on cognitive influences on perception, two additional chapters, and a new, contemporary look. View Details


Sensation and Perception (MindTap Course List)
by E. Bruce Goldstein (Author), James Brockmole (Author)

E. Bruce Goldstein's SENSATION AND PERCEPTION has helped a myriad of students understand perceptual research and how the results of this research relate to everyday experience. A key strength of this text has always been its ability to illustrate concepts through examples and visuals. Dr. Goldstein and new co-author Dr. James Brockmole take students on an intriguing journey through the senses with both clarity and thoroughness, combining their extensive classroom experience and the most innovative research to create a visual, colorful text. MindTap, the digital learning solution available... View Details


Perception (The Perception Trilogy) (Volume 1)
by Lee Strauss (Author)

***A Library JournalSelection***  
Eternal Life is To Die For. 
 
Seventeen year old ZoeVanderveen is a GAP--a genetically altered person. She lives in the security ofa walled city on prime water-front property along side other equally beautifulpeople with extended life spans. Her brother Liam is missing.
 
Noah Brody is a naturalwho lives on the outside. He leads protests against the GAPs and detests thewidening chasm they've created between those who have and those who don't. Hedoesn't like girls like Zoe and he has good reason not to like... View Details


Perception: Take Charge of How Others View Your Brand, Become Irresistible, and Make a Bigger Impact
by Christo Hall (Author), Franziska Iseli (Author)

Sure, being the best sounds great. But simply being the best is no longer enough to position you at the front of the pack. You also need to be perceived as being the best.

And that’s why Perception is so important.

With this book, authors Franziska Iseli and Christo Hall show you how to harness the power of perception to achieve success - whether you are leading a small business, trying to climb the career ladder, or simply working to achieve greater success in relationships and improve your personal life.

Perception is a book primarily about small business... View Details


Leap of Perception: The Transforming Power of Your Attention
by Penney Peirce (Author)

Today, we are in the midst of a global transformation of consciousness; the Information Age is speeding to the point where our perception will soon make a "leap" into the Intuition Age. The way we see the world is rapidly shifting from a linear construct to a spherical-holographic one.

This means the resulting new reality will function according to different rules and we will know ourselves as a new kind of human being. It's hard to imagine from our point of view in "old perception" but this book gives a clear picture of what a transformed reality looks like from the "new... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Inspire To Action
What motivates us to take up a cause, follow a leader, or create change? This hour, TED speakers explore stories of inspirational leadership, and what makes some movements more successful than others. Guests include high school history teacher Diane Wolk-Rogers, writer and behavioral researcher Simon Sinek, 2016 Icelandic presidential candidate Halla Tómasdóttir, professor of leadership Jochen Menges, and writer and activist Naomi Klein.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#474 Appearance Matters
This week we talk about appearance, bodies, and body image. Why does what we look like affect our headspace so much? And how do we even begin to research a topic as personal and subjective as body image? To try and find out, we speak with some of the researchers at the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) at the University of the West of England in Bristol. Psychology Professor Phillippa Diedrichs walks us through body image research, what we know so far, and how we know what we know. Professor of Appearance and Health Psychology Diana Harcourt talks about visible...