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Beliefs in Society (8)
Unit 3 Sociology AQA
Revision Material…read more

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Competing Belief Systems
· Religion is not the only belief system; it is one
of many
· Belief: something that a person holds to be
true, e.g. a conviction that human beings were
created by supernatural power OR that they
have evolved through the process of natural
selection…read more

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Berger & Luckmann
· All belief systems are socially constructed; beliefs are created by different people or
groups of believers e.g. scientific theories, political beliefs and religious doctrines.
· Religious beliefs ­ provides answers to the fundamental questions about the
`meaning of life'
· Scientific beliefs ­ provides answers about `this life' and relies upon evidence and
reason to do so
The Enlightenment Period (18th century): politics, philosophy, science and
communications were radically reoriented
· This period was based on 2 principles:
1. Belief that reason & logic could provide an understanding of the world
2. The view that this understanding could be used for betterment of humankind
· Scientific beliefs are based on the use and data collected from scientific method;
successful in challenging the Roman Catholic church
· Science was therefore based on taking a systematic approach, much favoured by
· Period challenged faith and religion for the first time, by using tangible evidence
through scientific research and logic to understand the world and human
behaviour; free people of ignorance
· People easily trust science because of its impact from centuries ago till now with;
introduction to medicines, development of technology, raised standards of living
· However both the science and religious belief system provide the people with `a
universe of meaning' ­ making sense of the world and its people…read more

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Karl Popper; Falsification
· Popper claims that it is generally accepted that, unlike religion, science aspires to objectivity (free
from bias) and value freedom.
· Science is based on research methods that produce empirical evidence
· Popper discusses that science is an `open belief system', whereby scientists openly welcome
testing, scrutiny and criticism to their theories; this way science is avoiding bias
· Popper claims that in science taking the `inductive method' approach is not good because:
· If scientists create theories after collecting evidence, it assumes that the theory is right and this
therefore prevents driving knowledge further forward
· Popper suggests that scientist take the approach of `falsification' when trying to explain things in
the world
· Involves researches NOT aiming to prove their hypothesis true, but instead to try and prove them
wrong ­ this is opens up any other future exception
· A hypothesis can easily be proven `false', as just one observation to the contrary can disprove it;
the more a hypothesis set out to be proven `false', the more likely it is to be a `scientific truth'
· Falsification wins people's trust in science because it allows people to easily see their research
· Popper therefore suggests that the `deductive method' approach is better for science, as it
enables test to be done to prove a hypothesis wrong, where if the theory resists falsification then
it is a good theory.
· an objection, that it is not always possible to demonstrate falsehood definitively, especially if one
is using statistical criteria to evaluate a null hypothesis
· it is not always clear, if evidence contradicts a hypothesis, that this is a sign of flaws in the
hypothesis rather than of flaws in the evidence
· falsificationism can be questioned logically: it is not clear how Popper would deal with a
statement like "for every metal, there is a temperature at which it will melt." The hypothesis
cannot be falsified by any possible observation, for there will always be a higher temperature than
tested at which the metal may in fact melt, yet it seems to be a valid scientific hypothesis.
· Thomas Kuhn ­ Science is a closed belief system.…read more

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Why has science grown so rapidly in
the last few centuries?
· Robert Merton :
· Argues that science has thrives a major social institution since it has received support for
other institutions and values
· Merton agrees with Popper in claiming that, as an institution, science needs an `ethos' (set of
norms) that makes scientists act in ways to serve a goal of increasing scientific knowledge
CUDOS norms:
1. Communism ­ scientific knowledge is not `private property'; scientists must share it with
the scientific community (publish findings), otherwise knowledge cannot grow
2. Universalism ­ the truth or falsity of scientific knowledge is judged by universal, objective
criteria (e.g. testing) and not by particular race, sec of the scientist who produces it
3. Disinterestedness ­ being committed to discovering knowledge for its own sake; scientist
cannot practice fraud once findings are published
4. Organised Scepticism- no knowledge claim is regarded as `sacred', every idea open to
scrutiny & criticism
5. As above norms are followed, science comes across to people as professional, trust-worthy
6. This also provides a direct challenge to religion where the same clear and rigorous
techniques are not used…read more

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Social construction of Reality
· Human beings construct their beliefs in a social context ­ they
create ` universe of meaning', which help people make sense of
their own lives.
· Belief systems are therefore socially constructed.
· Universe of meaning are fragile and relative, they can easily be
shattered and overturned because:
· One society's truth may be another society's falsehood e.g.
common sense in one society may be nonsense in another
Examples of scientific studies that helped provide further
understanding in the society:
· Galileo's telescope opened up a new world; he used the telescope
in discovering evidence that claimed the Earth rotated around the
sun rather than the other way around. This enabled people to
become aware of the vast universe
· The Hadron Collider: built in 17 mile tunnel, that is 100m under
the ground, it collides particle together in aim to recreate the
conditions that existed on `trillionth' of a second after the Big
Bang. Scientist are in hope that this will reveal the origins of the
forces of nature & unlock the secrets of time…read more

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