Talk:Scientific method

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An example of an excellent, useful article. Will it be deleted for failing one of ASchlafly's tests? I ask not to be a pain, but because accepting this entry should cause the rejection of a large percentage of articles currently here. Palmd001 22:41, 18 March 2007 (EDT)

It won't be deleted, if I have any say in the matter. But item #3 is incomplete and has a poor example.

Poverty of this definition

Totally diagaree. This is a very inadequate section, which does not at all address what the scientific method actually does , or tries to do, not the depth of verifiability required in accepting theory. Compare what is written here with the Wikipedia entry:

Elements of scientific method There are multiple ways of outlining the basic method shared by all of the fields of scientific inquiry. The following examples are typical classifications of the most important components of the method on which there is very wide agreement in the scientific community and among philosophers of science, each of which are subject only to marginal disagreements about a few very specific aspects.

The following is a more thorough description of the method. This set of methodological elements and organization of procedures will in general tend to be more characteristic of natural sciences and experimental psychology than of disciplines commonly categorized as social sciences. Among the latter, methods of verification and testing of hypotheses may involve less stringent mathematical and statistical interpretations of these elements within the respective disciplines. Nonetheless the cycle of hypothesis, verification and formulation of new hypotheses will tend to resemble the basic cycle described below.

An alternative way to explain scientific method is the "operational":

I would suggest that what is required her is either to use a reference to Wikipedia OR to incorparate some of these elements.

--CatWatcher 15:11, 4 April 2007 (EDT)

Four steps of the scientific method

Has anyone seen this 4-step formulation?

  • Proper scientific methodology usually requires four steps:
    1. Observation. Objectivity is very important at this stage.
    2. The inducement of general hypotheses or possible explanations for what has been observed. Here one must be imaginative yet logical. Occam's Razor should be considered but need not be strictly applied: Entia non sunt multiplicanda, or as it is usually paraphrased, the simplest hypothesis is the best. Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.
    3. The deduction of corollary assumptions that must be true if the hypothesis is true. Specific testable predictions are made based on the initial hypothesis.
    4. Testing the hypothesis by investigating and confirming the deduced implications. Observation is repeated and data is gathered with the goal of confirming or falsifying the initial hypothesis.
  • Pseudoscience often omits the last two steps above. [1]

The difference between this 4-step process and what the article says, is that this one recommends drawing conclusions from the hypothesis. The scientist then compares each conclusion with the facts. Any facts which contradict a conclusion invalidate the hypothesis.

Logically, it works like this:

  • Hypothesis: the moon is made of green cheese.
    1. If this is true, then the spectrum of light coming from the moon should match the spectrum for green cheese.
    2. Astronomer X did a spectral analysis of moonlight and found that it did not match green cheese.
    3. Therefore, the hypothesis is untrue.

If you want an example that isn't so light-hearted, we could list the criteria used by medical researchers to determine whether a particular germ causes a disease. Such factors as:

  • Does the disease ever occur without the presence of the germ (or at least antibodies indicating its presence)?
  • Does the germ ever appear without the disease manifesting? If so, how much? Is there a threshold?

I think this was used in determining whether e. coli bacteria in water makes people sick.

Sorry I don't have all the details at hand - I'm not a card-carrying scientist - but I think I've captured the essentials. Can we work together as "science writers" to fix up the article? --Ed Poor 09:45, 6 April 2007 (EDT)

It has been nearly 3 weeks, and none of the writers clamoring and carping about the supposed "bias" of this site re: theory of evolution have bothered to comment on scientific methodology here. Does this mean that evolution is indeed a matter of dogma to them, as Ann Coulter claims in Godless?

Psychology studies invisible events which cannot be measured by any "natural" means. We can only ask people to report to us, in their own words, what they were thinking or feeling. Yet it is considered a science. --Ed Poor 06:52, 24 April 2007 (EDT)

On the other hand, it might be because we have been banned for pointing out that many of the other entries on this site are in need of citation and evidence to back up statements, and did not have the opportunity to contribute. :P --CatWatcher 07:39, 24 April 2007 (EDT)
If this were true, somebody would have pointed out an example by now. I've been here 5 weeks, and ideological bans simply do not happen. Do not spread false rumors, or I will suspend your account. --Ed Poor 07:45, 24 April 2007 (EDT)

Ah, you mean like the following interchange on A.Schafly's talk page just before I was banned...

== Response to accusations of ideology ==

This is quite an interesting accusation. I thought that I was simply pointing out that the entry as written was deficient, in that it contained no references and seemed to present an unjustified diatribe against what the author perceived to be 'liberals'. Not knowing any liberals, myself, I would like to know where i can find such information, so as to read about them, and convince myself that the statements are true. As to defacing, I did not change ONE ITEM of text that you wrote, hence I do not consider that defacement. --[[User:CatWatcher|CatWatcher]] 18:05, 20 April 2007 (EDT)

--CatWatcher 07:52, 24 April 2007 (EDT)

You were not "banned" - you are still here. To "ban" means to exclude permanently from the project. Please don't use inflammatory language.

Your account was blocked for three days because of "sarcasm". You had said that you didn't know any liberals.

Instead of engaging me here in a low-traffic area of the site, perhaps you'd like to make your points in a more prominent place, such as Conservapedia:Has anyone ever been been banned for pointing out that many of the other entries on this site are in need of citation and evidence to back up statements?. --Ed Poor 08:12, 24 April 2007 (EDT)

WhatIsG0ing0n got blocked for criticising badly sourced stuff. It doesn't take rocket science to figure that the reasons given for such blocks are just excuses to stifle criticism - they can't be found in the rules.
Auld Nick 12:09, 24 April 2007 (EDT)

Distinct from Scientific theory

Recently, this was made a redirect to scientific theory which is one stage of the scientific method. It does not talk about the method itself (observation, hypothesis, predictions, refinement, theory). If there are no objections, I intend to remove the redirect and rewrite the article. --Mtur 16:03, 17 May 2007 (EDT)

Sorry Mtur - didn't mean to step on your toes - I saw the article had been redirected to scientific theory, which was obviously incorrect, so I wrote something for it to provide some kind of definition of the scientific method without looking at the discussion page. I expect other people will rewrite anything that looks incorrect. There should be no ideological struggles over this since an understanding of the scientific method is universally accepted by scientists, though it may be phrased differently by different people.--Britinme 16:22, 17 May 2007 (EDT)

Seems the only contributors to the old entry were amongst a cabal of vandals. RobS 16:24, 17 May 2007 (EDT)
No toes stepped on - just that they are two distinct concepts that need distinct pages. If the old page was substandard then a new one should be written. I'm just making sure that I'm not stepping on any sensitive sysop toes by suggesting this. --Mtur 16:27, 17 May 2007 (EDT)
Please go ahead. We do have some questionable material in some entries, so I just had to remove all this since the ony two contributors have been blocked. RobS 16:35, 17 May 2007 (EDT)
Wouldn't it have been better to take the time to verify the content than to delete everything? Or ask another sysop who is familiar with the material to do so? --Mtur 16:41, 17 May 2007 (EDT)

Maybe we need to look at Popper on scientific method. He's the set text for many university philosophy of science papers --Edward 23:07, 20 June 2007 (EDT)

Use of Theory

The way the current article is written a single tested hypothesis would be classified as a theory. This is incorrect. I will think of some wording that would convey that a theory is a conjecture derived from multiple tested hypotheses.--Able806 09:11, 15 October 2008 (EDT)

A hypothesis is a conjecture designed to guide experimentation. Hypotheses are extremely useful in problem solving, and are essential in developing new theories. --Ed Poor Talk 09:22, 12 November 2008 (EST)
Thanks Ed for the change. I am quiet aware of the differences (doing research of alkaloids, post doc), it just seemed that the article failed to inform the reader that a basic tested hypothesis can not be advanced to a theory. I was actualy making the change when you edited, my version below:

"Scientists must be able to take such published data and repeat the experiment. This allows for confirmation of the validity of the original hypothesis. Multiple supported hypotheses that have a unified concept allows for the concept to be developed into a scientific “theory”, which in science means an interpretation or explanation that is well-supported by evidence which is testable and tested. A theory can also be falsified by evidence as well. The level of a “fact” or “law” is simply that which is empirical, and can be assumed to true."

The law definition should be edited as well. We have discovered that it is was to presumptous for us to claim that something is not going to change, however we can say with a high level of certainty that something will remain the same.--Able806 09:35, 12 November 2008 (EST)

Just saw your last edit, that helps a lot with what I said above.--Able806 09:37, 12 November 2008 (EST)

How and when is it really used?

I daresay that scientific discovery is only rarely made by systematically applying the "scientific method".

  • Most good things that happen with kids (or in any other setting) are inadvertent, a sideshow to the planned purpose of an activity. For instance, it's said that Einstein discovered relativity while riding a train, absent-mindedly watching a parallel train pull ahead, leaving him with the sense of moving backwards -- relatively. As Philosopher Vilfredo Pareto put it "Logic is useful for proof, but almost never for making discoveries." [2]