Another beginning

Each course in this PhD program is another beginning – starting to think differently about topics outlined for the course, discussions held with classmates around related issues, discourse and disagreements from others when ideas clash. It’s a challenge to make my mind work in this way, within the constraints and confines of the topics or issues at hand. On demand, on time, in the moment – thinking critically without critically thinking. Today, as the first day of the course ebbs to a close, I’m reluctantly admitting that this time it may be too much, since this is only the beginning.

What are ways of knowing? How do I know when or if science has deemed something to be truth? How do I go about spotting the strengths and weaknesses in scientific research? Can a trusted source truly be trusted as a sole source of information or are verifications and validations required for everything? Too many more questions are erupting as a result of re-reading the course reading for today merged with conversations with classmates. This is only the beginning.

These are human questions in the human endeavours found in scientific research. There are no easy answers and many more questions than can be answered. For today, the four basic ways of knowing (Hoy & Adams, 2016) are ringing through the mists, echoing in my mind:

  • I know because it’s habit, something I tenaciously cling to based on my repeated experiences and beliefs.
  • I know because experts have stated the information to be true. I cling to their authority as truth-speakers.
  • I know because common sense and suppositions bring me to this truth. How can it not be true since everyone also assumes it to be truth?
  • I know because I have reflectively examined, searched and questioned others or events to ensure the truth is … well, the truth. This is scientific endeavour and will always lead to the truth.

I come to these ‘truths’ through inferences, deductive thinking, inductive reasoning, and abductive study (Hoy & Adams, 2016). Scientific research includes these qualities: objective, precise, verifiable, empirical, logically reasoned, parsimonious, and probabilistic. (course notes). This is the beginning of my quantitative research course work, ultimately leading me to some truths about research.

Image attribution Photo by Margaret Weir on Unsplash