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November 24, 2017 

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ABSOLUTE POVERTY: The amount of income a person or family needs to purchase an absolute amount of the basic necessities of life. These basic necessities are identified in terms of calories of food, BTUs of energy, square feet of living space, etc. The problem with the absolute poverty level is that there really are no absolutes when in comes to consuming goods. You can consume a given poverty level of calories eating relatively expensive steak, relatively inexpensive pasta, or garbage from a restaurant dumpster. The income needed to acquire each of these calorie "minimums" vary greatly. That's why some prefer relative poverty.

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PHENOMENON:

An event or action that is subject to investigation, analysis, and explanation using the scientific method. Phenomena are the sorts of things that science seeks to explain. They can be common events, like the blowing wind, or unusual, like the extinction of the dinosaurs.
While the term phenomenon might entice thoughts of UFOs, ghosts, and mutant three-headed turtles, it really applies to any type of event or action. These events can be extraordinary or mundane. They can be unusual or common place.

The types of events falling under the heading of phenomena and subject to scientific study include the sun rising, the stock market falling, a person talking, a volcano erupting, a basketball bouncing, a star exploding, and a bird flying. Some of these events might not seem appropriately suited to be called phenomena because they are quite ordinary.

The Extraordinary

Science is definitely interested in explaining unusual and extraordinary events. If a glowing, three-dimensional, translucent image of Abraham Lincoln playing badminton with Issac Newton suddenly appears on the front lawn of the White House, then science would certainly seek an explanation. Scientists salivate profusely at the prospect of explaining the occurrence of exceptional events. Doing so pushes forth the frontiers of science. It reveals possible deficiencies in existing theories and avenues for improvement.

The Great Depression of the 1930s, for example, revealed flaws in the existing classical economic explanation of the macroeconomy and induced economists to push forth the theoretical boundaries of economic science.

The Ordinary

Science, however, seeks to explain ordinary and mundane events, as well. It is also interested in explaining the glow of fireflies, the flight of a badminton shuttlecock, and the growth of grass on the front lawn of the White House. Explaining common events means that a theory works, that it has captured the essential laws of nature.

The same theory that might explain the catastrophic downturn of the Great Depression also needs to explain an increase in the unemployment rate from 5.1 percent to 5.2 percent. If it fails to explain the ordinary, then a theory has no chance of explaining the extraordinary.

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Recommended Citation:

PHENOMENON, AmosWEB Encyclonomic WEB*pedia, http://www.AmosWEB.com, AmosWEB LLC, 2000-2017. [Accessed: November 24, 2017].


Check Out These Related Terms...

     | empirical | data | verification |


Or For A Little Background...

     | scientific method | science | theory | principle | hypothesis | law | abstraction | cause and effect | world view |


And For Further Study...

     | fallacies | economic science | social science | physical science | dismal science | economic thinking |


Related Websites (Will Open in New Window)...

     | American Association for the Advancement of Science | American Economic Association | National Science Foundation |


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