Geological reasoning: making sense of making sense

Loudon, T.V.. 2003 Geological reasoning: making sense of making sense. In: Annual Conference of the International Association of Mathematical Geology, Geo-reasoning Workshop, Portsmouth, UK, 11 September 2003. 1-7. (Unpublished)

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Advances in information technology (IT) alter the mechanisms supporting geoscience reasoning. IT can help us to integrate types of information and modes of thinking. Instead of perpetuating the constraints of pen, paper and printing press, we can use what brain science reveals of the working of our minds to build new structures. As scientists, our findings must ultimately be testable against the real world. They are likely to be based on analogies and a diversity of qualitative interpretations and interacting models: direct; inverse; episodic; spatial; quantitative; reductionist where appropriate, but recognising unpredictability from emergent systems and missing evidence. Individual reasoning processes manage such models in a top-down context, set in a generalised view of the geoscience paradigm, detailed within the specialised area. The process of research from observation to explanation to communication can be seen as one of generalisation and abstraction, reducing detail through ascending hierarchies of objects, processes and events. But each investigation (of, say, one kind of geohazard in one area) selects what is salient and important from a specific viewpoint based on objectives, training, experience, and mind-set. IT increases the interactions between groups, and integrates the results of investigations to serve wider purposes. Consequently, the need to reconcile viewpoints grows in importance. Review of the mechanisms for reconciliation, including publication procedures, standards committees and information communities, may now be appropriate, to take advantage of the opportunities to support scientific progress more efficiently. We need to study the reasoning processes of geoscience in order to design better systems.

Item Type: Publication - Conference Item (Paper)
Programmes: BGS Programmes > Information Systems Development
Additional Keywords: geoscience reasoning, information technology, models, explanation, reconciliation
NORA Subject Terms: Computer Science
Earth Sciences
Data and Information
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Date made live: 09 Apr 2008 12:27 +0 (UTC)

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