Scientific Method

1.4: The Scientific Method - How Chemists Think
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Redesigning pedagogy: research, policy, practice. Galileo Galilei — was an Italian mathematician, astronomer and philosopher. He was known for many things, but of the most notable was his discovery of the Gallilean Satellites Europa, Gallymede and Callisto. He was named the father of modern science for inventing and practicing some of the first research methods.

In his papers, he outlined a process of conducting experiments, collecting data on those experiments, and using mathematical analysis to obtain objective and replicable results. His approach to obtaining and analyzing data to find empirical evidence is now coined the scientific method and has been the foundation of science ever since. As a PM, keeping a finger on the pulse of the market, your users, your stakeholders, and everything in between is the only way to identify the problems you need to solve with your product. At this stage, it is okay to explore pie in the sky concepts that you might not have the technology to support today.

Reach out to experts in your company to see if they have ever thought about the problem in a particular way to get a feel for the needs of the market and to start developing your hypotheses. A hypothesis needs to be testable so that you can measure whether or not the hypothesis was achieved.

Steps of the Scientific Method

Stay tuned for a future post on the pros and cons of any research methodology. That doesn't mean that we cannot run experiments with some degree of certainty surrounding the empirical evidence we obtain. As a scientist, as long as we state the limitations and provide replicable tests, we can be confident in our results based on the P values, confidence intervals, and Standard Deviations in the data.

An example of a natural experiment is how Uber was able to conduct a study on the gender pay ga p by simply observing their existing data; not manipulating variables to obtain a conclusion. Ideally, the methods used to analyze your data should be as close to statistically significant as possible, with lower P values and a higher confidence interval. Tools to track and measure user analytics does all of this work for you, but not all of us are lucky enough to leverage these tools ahem, me!

For example, in the history of biology , much of the early work involved detailed collection, description, and classification of organisms.

The extensive early work documented in museum collections and old tomes, along with personal experience as an exploratory biologist on the HMS Beagle, served as the fodder for Charles Darwin 's conception of evolution by natural selection. Similarly Albert Einstein 's theory of relativity was based on a solid understanding of Newtonian physics, along with personal observations of relative movement while gazing out a train window.

Step 1: Make observations

Data Collect data and record the progress of your experiment. In other cases, experiments often demonstrate that the hypothesis is incorrect or that it must be modified thus requiring further experimentation. Kuhn shares with other of his contemporaries, such as Feyerabend and Lakatos, a commitment to a more empirical approach to philosophy of science. The experiment should be a fair test that changes only one variable at a time while keeping everything else the same. Nicod, J. H-D as a logic of confirmation The standard starting point for a non-inductive analysis of the logic of confirmation is known as the Hypothetico-Deductive H-D method.

Observation and insight are the grist to generate hypotheses and theories, and the full scientific method is necessary for hypotheses and theories to withstand the test of time. Scientific skepticism is a vital element in the scientific process, ensuring that no new hypothesis is considered a Theory capped T until sufficient evidence is provided and other scientists have had their chances to debunk it.

Even then, all of science is always considered a "good working model" and the "best understanding we have at the present time. It is always assumed that someone, somewhere is out to disprove the current theory. The scientific method helps us pursue the ideal of scientific objectivity , protecting against bias that could lead to false conclusions. Bias, in the sense of inclinations or preconceptions, is part of being human, and has a role in scientific inquiry insofar as it guides what questions to ask and how to ask them.

At the same time bias leads to championing a particular conclusion a priori, independent of evidence, belief, not necessarily reality. The scientific method explicitly seeks to remove bias through rigorous hypothesis testing and reproducing results. Bias can enter in many different ways, including the initial framing of an inquiry, the time scale examined, and innate properties of the system being examined. For example, a pharmaceutical compound may be approved as safe because it appears safe and effective in short-term studies, while it may later be shown to be ineffective or unsafe in long-term studies.

In essence, the scientific method serves as a tool to keep bias in check. The philosophy of science dates back to the Greeks, but it began to take its modern form during the scientific revolution. During the 18th century, David Hume philosophically undermined the scientific method with his problem of induction [14] and his deconstruction of causation. A synthesis of rationalism and empiricism arose in the 18th century with the work of Immanuel Kant [16] and continued in the 19th century among pragmatist philosophers such as Charles Sanders Peirce.

The enterprise failed when it was noticed that the verification principle that logical positivism built on was self-refuting. Karl Popper replaced verifiability with falsifiability, that is, for an idea to be popperly "scientific" it must be possible to devise an experiment even a thought experiment that could render it false. Popper intended falsification both as a solution to the demarcation problem and as a workaround for Hume's problem of induction. He described the dynamics of scientific change, coining the terms scientific revolution and paradigm shift to help describe what he saw as the way a fundamentally conservative set of ideas could be overturned and become a new, different set of conservative ideas.

Kuhn rejected the idea that there was only one scientific method.

What is the Scientific Method?

This influenced the practitioners of what would become the sociology of science as well as other philosophers, such as Imre Lakatos. Lakatos conceived of science as split into numerous paradigms he called "research programmes", each making use of its own methodology and assumptions.

Summary: Humans remain humans and don't naturally think in a scientific manner, but have to learn it, and easily backslide.


Other schools of "scientific criticism" look at science critically from an economic perspective, or focus on discourse , but these are more academic and less practical critiques. In order to look for "data" you need to have a model or "structure" of how the world works. The problem as James Burke pointed out in the "Worlds Without End" episode of Day the Universe Changed that structure can drive every part of your research even what you accept as reliable data.

This possibility of the structure driving the data rather than the data driving the structure had been hammered home in anthropological circles back in with Horace Miner's bitingly satirical "Body Ritual among the Nacirema. Miner showed that with that model any culture even that of then modern s United States could be dismissed as a bunch of magic-using savages. In "Worlds Without End" Burke points out one of the reasons the Piltdown hoax lasted as long at it did was it fitted the then prevalent structure of finding a human like skull with an ape-like face.

In fact, in , David Waterston of King's College London stated in Nature that the find and an ape mandible and human skull [20] and French paleontologist Marcellin Boule said the same thing in In Franz Weidenreich stated after careful examination that the Piltdown find was a modern human cranium and an orangutan jaw with filed-down teeth [21] but because Piltdown fit the structure so well other scientists let the model drive their thinking rather than the evidence itself.

A related problem is that more information makes one more confident on the theory they have formulated but that does not correlate on how accurate it is. Pseudoscientists have discovered an obvious way to 'cheat' the scientific method. It goes like this:. This is a blatant perversion of the scientific method, but to someone not versed in science, fallacies, or psychology, it might seem similar enough to be accepted as legitimate. This manner of cheating has been used by proponents of intelligent design.

Note that this isn't limited to pseudoscientists such as those trying to grant legitimacy to intelligent design, but is a mistake frequently made even by "proper" scientists, if they focus too much on finding evidence that supports their hypothesis their "belief" , instead of focusing on attempting to find evidence that would refute it, or on attempting to find evidence that would refute competing hypotheses. Science and faith are two vastly different methods for learning about the world.

The Scientific Method

Only one of them actually works , however. Jump to: navigation , search. It's just the best we have.

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You get all the fun of sitting still, being quiet, writing down numbers, paying attention Science has it all. Darwin, or Professor Faraday, or Mr. Grove, or any other of the great men whom good boys [and girls] are taught to respect. They are very wise men; and you must listen respectfully to all they say: but even if they should say, which I am sure they never would, "That cannot exist. That is contrary to nature," you must wait a little, and see; for perhaps even they may be wrong.

See the main article on this topic: NOMA. The Independent.