“The variable in terms of time. The “quality”

“The quality of knowledge produced by an academic discipline is directly proportional to the duration of historical development of that discipline.” Explore this claim with reference to two disciplines.Each discipline has gone through its own set of developments throughout its existence. The duration of a discipline’s existence can give rise to several developments and changes in that particular field. But to what extent can we investigate the correlation between the quality of knowledge and the developments and progress in an area of knowledge. According to the prescribed title, we are investigating “knowledge” in a discipline as a qualitative variable which is affected by the “direct proportion of the development” in that discipline which has to be considered as a quantitative variable in terms of time. The “quality” of knowledge can be measure through various criteria such as information accuracy, completeness, timeliness, and relevance ( Wixom & Todd 2005 ). The quality of knowledge is important because knowledge is, typically, used by people who do not authored it and will have a lifetime of several years (Marwick, 2001). To understand how the quality of knowledge progresses over time, we need to see to what extent can the methodology in an discipline affect the quality of knowledge? Over a long duration of time, the best of theories have been shown to be incomplete, especially in the AOKs of Natural sciences. This is seen through the incomplete knowledge framework in terms of the methodology used to formulate the theories. Scientists would formulate a theory to explain a particular phenomena incorporating a few basic principles, and model this theory to future predictions. Although there would be minimal evidence supporting the theory, it would be considered concrete enough to be accepted at that time. But sooner or later with time, new and more precise experiments that can counter the fundamentals or claims of an existing theory can help improve the quality of the knowledge in that particular discipline. Here we see the examples of “superseded theories”, which are theories that were once widely accepted but were replaced by a better theory in the future. This can be seen in the discipline of Chemistry, with the replacement of the Caloric theory of the 17th Century. This theory suggested that a self-repelling fluid called “caloric” was the substance of heat, flowing from hotter bodies to colder bodies. This theory was later rendered obsolete by the “mechanical theory of heat” in the mid 19th Century. This example shows how the long duration of historical development over time in the field of thermodynamics improved the quality of the discipline of Chemistry. It may appear that the theories were not ‘Accurate’ to begin with , in spite of the fact that these were very good approximation of the truth or the reality addressed to understand and know but could not stand the test of time. Similarly, over a long duration, the evidence gathered through observations or data inspire, lend support to, or help refute scientific hypotheses and theories. Evidence has been the foundational element for testing of hypotheses and theories in many AOKs, especially Natural sciences. This knowledge, built over centuries, has been continuously tested and refined through a very rigorous scientific method that derives its power and legitimacy from evidence.In the past century or so, doubts have been raised on the efficacy of the tests and methods based entirely on evidence itself. “In 1958, Norwood Hanson in Patterns of Discovery undermined the division of observation versus theory, as one can predict, collect, prioritize, and assess data only via some horizon of expectation set by a theory. Thus, any dataset-the direct observations, the scientific facts—is laden with theory.” Norwood Russell Hanson first coined the term ‘theory laden character of observation’ suggesting the idea that the observations is dependent on the initial set conceptual framework of the observer. In simple terms,  you will look only for what you have thought or known or conceptualised; our preconceptions affect our observation and description. This difference in methodology between disciplines and the duration for developing such methodology can affect how the we perceive the quality of knowledge.However, in some cases we that the duration is not a primary factor that correlates with the developments in a discipline, which in turn affects the quality of knowledge in the development. The Ebola epidemic in world set in motion a collective endeavour to conduct accelerated clinical trials, research, experimentation and testing lifesaving interventions in the course of a major public health crisis. This unprecedented effort was supported by the recommendations of an ad hoc ethics panel convened in August 2014 by the WHO. By considering why and on what conditions the exceptional circumstances of the Ebola epidemic justified the use of unproven interventions, the panel’s recommendations have challenged conventional thinking about therapeutic development and clinical research ethics. From this example, we see how in short span of time, the desperate need for a cure for the disease that can have a global impact influenced accelerated research and knowledge production leading to increased quality in the discipline of Medicine, providing evidence that the duration historical development does not have to be directly proportionate to the quality of knowledge. In the area of Natural Sciences, the produced knowledge is always open to question and revision; no idea is proved for eternity; ideas that we accept today may get modified or rejected out rightly when tested with new evidence in future. Over a long duration of time, Natural Science has evolved as a disciplined, logical search for knowledge obtained by examination of the best available evidence subject to correction and improvement upon discovery of better evidence and thus always moving towards ” Quality”. Compared to other disciplines, Science is often identified by its progressive nature: in contrast to art, religion, philosophy, morality, and politics, there exist clear standards or normative criteria for identifying improvements and advances in science. The historian of science George Sarton argued, “the acquisition and systematization of positive knowledge are the only human activities which are truly cumulative and progressive. For instance, up until 1938, paleontologists accepted the idea that coelacanths (an ancient fish) went extinct about 80 million years ago. But that year, a live coelacanth was discovered off the coast of South Africa, causing scientists to revise their ideas and begin to investigate how this animal survives in the deep sea.  Although we see the impact of historical development in the AOK of Natural Sciences, does the duration of historical development impact the quality of knowledge in the discipline of History? Since historic records are written by biased authorities for the majority of the time, can the development affect the accuracy of the knowledge produced? Over time the testing and supporting methods have developed in area of History that stipulate techniques and guidelines for historians to use primary sources and other evidence for research and to write history essentially requiring  external criticism, internal criticism, and synthesis.The 20th century historians Ernest Bernheim from Germany and Charles Langlois & Charles Seignobos (1898) worked on formulating ‘Historical Method’ and wrote comprehensive manuals on use of techniques and tests in historical research to bring in reliability to study of History. Starting from the facts retrieved from first hand documents, these facts are then viewed by the historian from many different perspectives allowing to have an accurate and unbiased view.In spite of all the efforts, over a long duration of time, to make methods and processes reliable and credible over the past centuries, Area of History is still plagued by problems of Generalisation, Myth building, influences from Nationalism, Nostalgia, Eurocentrism and Militarisation that affect the “Quality” of production of Knowledge.Humans tend to value the story over analysis. They like to assign responsibility, liability or ‘blame’; like interesting narratives with moral heroes, immoral culprits and satisfying endings; like to think of their own nations and societies as more advanced, civilised or culturally superior than others. The human mind has a tendency to make assumptions about the whole based on just a few of its parts (generalisation : form general conclusions from just a few facts or pieces of evidence). Most human populations contain enormous economic, ethnic and cultural diversity, so any conclusion about an entire group based on a small amount of evidence is likely to be flawed.Non-historians, however, are often more interested in the value and meaning of a story than its historical accuracy. Over time many myths and stories have become accepted as historical fact, simply because they sound appealing or fit into a particular narrative. Many myths have come to be repeated in print, which lends them undeserved credibility. Nationalists also place the needs and interest of their nation above those of other countries, which has fuelled unrest, international tension and war for centuries and also infected and distorted academic history and popular conceptions of the past. Even serious Many individuals historians find it difficult to accept or engage with criticism of their own country. Needless to say this can lead to an imbalanced view of the past by colouring or dominating historical narratives including overlooking violence and mistreatment of others. For example in Japan, the history textbooks ignore the atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers in World War II.   


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