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Proceedings Paper

Role of the observer in the scientific process in astrobiology and in defining life
Author(s): Vera M. Kolb
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Paper Abstract

The role of the observer in the scientific process has been studied in various contexts, including philosophical. It is notorious that the experiments are theory-loaded, that the observers pick and choose what they consider important based on their scientific and cultural backgrounds, and that the same phenomenon may be studied by different observers from different angles. In this paper we critically review various authors' views of the role of the observer in the scientific process, as they apply to astrobiology. Astrobiology is especially vulnerable to the role of the observer, since it is an interdisciplinary science. Thus, the backgrounds of the observers in the astrobiology field are even more heterogeneous than in the other sciences. The definition of life is also heavily influenced by the observer of life who injects his/her own prejudices in the process of observing and defining life. Such prejudices are often dictated by the state of science, instrumentation, and the science politics at the time, as well as the educational, scientific, cultural and other background of the observer.

Paper Details

Date Published: 7 September 2010
PDF: 5 pages
Proc. SPIE 7819, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology XIII, 78190A (7 September 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.861424
Show Author Affiliations
Vera M. Kolb, Univ. of Wisconsin, Parkside (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7819:
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology XIII
Richard B. Hoover; Gilbert V. Levin; Alexei Yu. Rozanov; Paul C. W. Davies, Editor(s)

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