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What Are Case Studies

Jo Said:

What benefits can be gained from case studies? What dangers, if any, are there in using them? ?

We Answered:

The case study is effective for generalizing using the type of test that Karl Popper called falsification, which forms part of critical reflexivity [1]. Falsification is one of the most rigorous tests to which a scientific proposition can be subjected: if just one observation does not fit with the proposition it is considered not valid generally and must therefore be either revised or rejected. Popper himself used the now famous example of, "All swans are white," and proposed that just one observation of a single black swan would falsify this proposition and in this way have general significance and stimulate further investigations and theory-building. The case study is well suited for identifying "black swans" because of its in-depth approach: what appears to be "white" often turns out on closer examination to be "black."

For instance, Galileo’s rejection of Aristotle’s law of gravity was based on a case study selected by information-oriented sampling and not random sampling. The rejection consisted primarily of a conceptual experiment and later on of a practical one. These experiments, with the benefit of hindsight, are self-evident. Nevertheless, Aristotle’s incorrect view of gravity dominated scientific inquiry for nearly two thousand years before it was falsified. In his experimental thinking, Galileo reasoned as follows: if two objects with the same weight are released from the same height at the same time, they will hit the ground simultaneously, having fallen at the same speed. If the two objects are then stuck together into one, this object will have double the weight and will according to the Aristotelian view therefore fall faster than the two individual objects. This conclusion seemed contradictory to Galileo. The only way to avoid the contradiction was to eliminate weight as a determinant factor for acceleration in free fall. Galileo’s experimentalism did not involve a large random sample of trials of objects falling from a wide range of randomly selected heights under varying wind conditions, and so on. Rather, it was a matter of a single experiment, that is, a case study.

Galileo’s view continued to be subjected to doubt, however, and the Aristotelian view was not finally rejected until half a century later, with the invention of the air pump. The air pump made it possible to conduct the ultimate experiment, known by every pupil, whereby a coin or a piece of lead inside a vacuum tube falls with the same speed as a feather. After this experiment, Aristotle’s view could be maintained no longer. What is especially worth noting, however, is that the matter was settled by an individual case due to the clever choice of the extremes of metal and feather. One might call it a critical case, for if Galileo’s thesis held for these materials, it could be expected to be valid for all or a large range of materials. Random and large samples were at no time part of the picture. However it was Galileo's view that was the subject of doubt as it was not reasonable enough to be Aristotelian view

By selecting cases strategically in this manner one may arrive at case studies that allow generalization.

Wade Said:

What are some recent Australian criminal cases I can do case studies on?

We Answered:

There was an interesting case about a 19yo in Cairns who brought abortion medication into Australia in order to perform her own abortion. Although abortion is not illegal per se (at least I don't think so) it has to be done in a sanctioned clinic. The point of this case was that it was a section of legislation that hadn't been used for close to 50 years. That and the fact that abortion needs to be decriminalised in Australia.

Steven Said:

What are some specific case studies on panic attacks?

We Answered:

to weak kidneys; and three types of panic attacks, to “weakness of the body,” ..... simply be glossed as some Western disorder. Lim's case illustrates the ... syndromes result in specific local patterns of somatic and psychological

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