Science Lies Its Way to the Truth ... Really

  • Meredith J. West
  • Andrew P. King
Part of the Handbook of Behavioral Neurobiology book series (HBNE, volume 13)


In science today, the study of behavior seems to be something someone does to get to somewhere else. Behavior affords a gateway to physiology, neuroscience, and genetics. The quality of such integrative work thus begins and ends with the quality of knowledge about behavior. How do we assay behavioral quality and its integrative potential? We ask this question because we believe many beliefs about the nature of behavior are wrong, albeit wrong in a right way, a scientific way. In this chapter, we illustrate some of the issues in the study of behavior to be considered before its transport into new domains We call for renewed emphasis on the tasks actually confronting organisms as they develop and learn and on the social context in which behavior typically occurs, a context too often excised and ignored in current work. Without a focus on task and context, we cannot connect knowledge about biology to knowledge about behavior. Without such a focus, we cannot prevent a cascade of changes in the meaning, relevance, and utility of behavioral knowledge as it is subjected to the process of integration.


Social Learning Song Type Repertoire Size Male Song Bird Song 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meredith J. West
    • 1
  • Andrew P. King
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyIndiana UniversityBloomington

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