The Truth Vs. “My Truth”

When selecting research methodology for a research project, the budding researcher is often caught between two paradigms, positivism and phenomenology, both have their own strengths, and they also have their own weaknesses. The best example of the power of positivism is the census, the sample size is literally “every person in the country”, and we get data that is 100% applicable to the whole population of the country. When you employ positivism, you aim to identify objective truth, with general applicability, meaning that you need a sample large enough for your data to be applied to the general population.

The major limit of positivism though, is that it’s purely a quantitative approach, and seeks to establish things as hard facts, and to discover the causal relationship between those as hard laws. The role of the researcher within positivism is as an observer, a data collector and interpreter of quantitative data [1].

The five main principles of positivist research are summarized thus [1]:

  1. There are no differences in the logic of inquiry across sciences.

  2. The research should aim to explain and predict.

  3. Research should be empirically observable via human senses. Inductive reasoning should be used to develop statements (hypotheses) to be tested during the research process.

  4. Science is not the same as the common sense. The common sense should not be allowed to bias the research findings.

  5. Science must be value-free and it should be judged only by logic.

Interpretivism arose due to a desire among some researchers to go beyond what can be established quantitatively by positivism, and introduce a degree of interpretation into the study. For this reason it focuses more on qualitative methods and seeks to find the meaning in the data. One can break down interpretivism [2] into multiple areas, but the one must applicable to The Red Pill is Phenomenology [3]. Phenomenology as a research paradigm is focused on experiences, events and occurrences with disregard or minimum regard for the external or physical reality. It also has issues with analysis, interpretation and lower levels of validity and reliability than positivism.

See the table below for the compare and contrast: Continue reading