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Encyclopedia > Scientific research

A scientific method or process is considered fundamental to the scientific investigation and acquisition of new knowledge based upon physical evidence. Scientists use observations, hypotheses and deductions to propose explanations for natural phenomena in the form of theories. Predictions from these theories are tested by experiment. If a prediction turns out to be correct, the theory survives. Any theory which is cogent enough to make predictions can then be tested reproducibly in this way. The method is commonly taken as the underlying logic of scientific practice. A scientific method is essentially an extremely cautious means of building a supportable, evidenced understanding of our natural world. A process is a naturally occurring or designed sequence of operations or events, possibly taking up time, space, expertise or other resource, which produces some outcome. ... What is science? There are different theories of what science is. ... Knowledge is the awareness and understanding of facts, truths or information gained in the form of experience or learning (a posteriori), or through introspection (a priori). ... Observation basically means watching something and taking note of anything it does. ... A hypothesis (= assumption in ancient Greek) is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. ... There are several meanings for the word deduction: Natural deduction Deductive reasoning Deductions in terms of taxation, such as Itemized deductions Standard deduction See also: Logic Venn diagram Inductive reasoning Both statistics and the scientific method rely on both induction and deduction. ... The word theory has a number distinct meanings depending on the context. ... Prediction of future events is an ancient human wish. ... From Latin ex- + -periri (akin to periculum attempt). ... An argument is cogent if, and only if, supposing the premises all to be true, then the conclusion is probably (but not necessarily) true. ... Reproducibility is one of the main principles of the scientific method. ... Evidence is: Any observable event which tends to prove or disprove a proposition, see scientific method and reality. ... Understanding is a psychological state in relation to an object or person whereby one is able to think about it and use concepts to be able to deal adequately with that object. ... The World in Plate Carrée Projection The World (XXI) is a Major Arcana card in Tarot In English, world is rooted in a compound of the obsolete words were, man, and eld, age; thus, its oldest meaning is Age of Man. ...

Contents

History

See also: History of science Modern science is a body of verifiable empirical knowledge, a global community of scholars, and a set of techniques for investigating the universe known as the scientific method. ...


The development of methods for scientific inquiry is indivisible from the development of science. See the list of related topics for some issues raised during its development. This page aims to list articles on Wikipedia that are related to the scientific method. ...


The Edwin Smith Papyrus (circa 1600 BC), an ancient surgical textbook, details the examination, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of numerous ailments. [1] (http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?tocId=9032043&query=Edwin%20Smith%20papyrus&ct=) Although the Ebers papyrus (ca 1550 BC) contains incantations and foul applications created to cast out diseased demons and other superstition, there is evidence of traditional empiricism. The Edwin Smith papyrus (c. ... Centuries: 18th century BC - 17th century BC - 16th century BC Decades: 1650s BC 1640s BC 1630s BC 1620s BC 1610s BC - 1600s BC - 1590s BC 1580s BC 1570s BC 1560s BC 1550s BC Events and trends Egypt: End of Fourteenth Dynasty The creation of one of the oldest surviving astronomical... The Ebers Papyrus of about 1550 BCE is among the most important ancient Egyptian medical papyri. ... (17th century BC - 16th century BC - 15th century BC - other centuries) (1600s BC - 1590s BC - 1580s BC - 1570s BC - 1560s BC - 1550s BC - 1540s BC - 1530s BC - 1520s BC - 1510s BC - 1500s BC - other decades) (3rd millennium BC - 2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC) Events 1700 - 1500 BC -- Hurrian conquests...


In his enunciation of a 'method' in the 13th century Roger Bacon was inspired by the writings of Arab alchemists who had preserved and built upon Aristotle's portrait of induction. Bacon described a repeating cycle of observation, hypothesis, experimentation, and the need for independent verification. Medieval English scholar Robert Grosseteste also bears importance in the history of scientific research. In the 17th century, Francis Bacon attempted to describe a rational procedure for establishing causation between phenomena. In the Novum Organum (published 1620), Bacon is at pains to tell us that scientific theories (or rather axioms) should remain as close to the facts as possible: (12th century - 13th century - 14th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 13th century was that century which lasted from 1201 to 1300. ... Statue of Roger Bacon in the Oxford University Museum Roger Bacon (1214 – 1294), also known as Doctor Mirabilis (Latin: astounding doctor), was one the most famous Franciscan friars of this time. ... There are three factors which may assist to varying degrees in determining whether someone is considered Arab or not: Political: whether they live in a country which is a member of the Arab League (or, more vaguely, the Arab world); this definition covers more than 300 million people. ... The Alchemist. ... Aristotle (sculpture) Aristotle (Greek: Αριστοτέλης Aristotelēs) (384 BC – March 7, 322 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher. ... Induction or inductive reasoning, sometimes called inductive logic, is the process of reasoning in which the conclusion of an argument is very likely to be true, but not certain, given the premises. ... Robert Grosseteste (c. ... (16th century - 17th century - 18th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 17th century was that century which lasted from 1601-1700. ... Sir Francis Bacon Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Albans (January 22, 1561 – April 9, 1626) was an English philosopher, statesman, spy and essayist. ... The Novum Organum is a philosophical work by Francis Bacon. ... Events September 6 - English emigrants on the Mayflower depart from Plymouth, England for the future New England and arrive at the end of the year. ...

"The understanding must not therefore be supplied with wings, but rather hung with weights, to keep it from leaping and flying. Now this has never been done; when it is done, we may entertain better hopes of the sciences."

Bacon's method made progress "by successive steps not interrupted or broken, we rise from particulars to lesser axioms; and then to middle axioms, one above the other; and last of all to the most general". The lesser axioms in this case should be rooted in experience obtained under stringent experimental conditions, for "experience, when it wanders in its own track, is [...] mere groping in the dark". The middle axioms building on the lesser, are "the true and solid and living axioms, on which depend the affairs and fortunes of men". And, last of all, "those which are indeed the most general" which are "abstract and without solidity".


Bacon's aphorism nineteen (XIX, of Book One) criticizes the tendency to leap to conclusions:

"There are and can be only two ways of searching into and discovering truth. The one flies from the senses and particulars to the most general axioms, and from these principles, the truth of which it takes for settled and immovable, proceeds to judgment and to the discovery of middle axioms. And this way is now in fashion."

and advocates a more cautious approach

"The other derives axioms from the senses and particulars, rising by a gradual and unbroken ascent, so that it arrives at the most general axioms last of all. This is the true way, but as yet untried."

In 1619, René Descartes began writing his first major treatise on proper scientific and philosophical thinking, the unfinished Rules for the Direction of the Mind. With this document, Descartes established the framework for a scientific method's guiding principles. The following quote from his 1637 treatise, Discourse on Method presents the four precepts that characterize a scientific method: Events May 13 - Dutch statesman Johan van Oldenbarnevelt is executed in The Hague after having been accused of treason. ... René Descartes René Descartes (IPA: , March 31, 1596 – February 11, 1650), also known as Cartesius, worked as a philosopher and mathematician. ... This article should be transwikied to Wikisource RULES FOR THE DIRECTION OF THE MIND René Descartes (summary) Rule One -The aim of our studies should be to direct the mind with a view to forming true and sound judgements about whatever comes before it. ... Events February 3 - Tulipmania collapses in Netherlands by government order February 15 - Ferdinand III becomes Holy Roman Emperor December 17 - Shimabara Rebellion erupts in Japan Pierre de Fermat makes a marginal claim to have proof of what would become known as Fermats last theorem. ... The Discourse on Method is a philosophical and mathematical treatise published by René Descartes in 1637. ...

"The first was never to accept anything for true which I did not clearly know to be such; that is to say, carefully to avoid precipitancy and prejudice, and to comprise nothing more in my judgement than what was presented to my mind so clearly and distinctly as to exclude all ground of methodic doubt.
The second, to divide each of the difficulties under examination into as many parts as possible, and as might be necessary for its adequate solution.
The third, to conduct my thoughts in such order that, by commencing with objects the simplest and easiest to know, I might ascend by little and little, and, as it were, step by step, to the knowledge of the more complex; assigning in thought a certain order even to those objects which in their own nature do not stand in a relation of antecedence and sequence.
And the last, in every case to make enumerations so complete, and reviews so general, that I might be assured that nothing was omitted."

Both Bacon and Descartes wanted to provide a firm foundation for scientific thought that avoided the deceptions of the mind and senses. Bacon envisaged that foundation as essentially physical and factual, whereas Descartes trusted to logic and mathematics.


Galileo Galilei combined quantitative experimentation and mathematical analysis, to permit the enunciation of general physical laws. Isaac Newton systematized these laws in the Principia, which became a model that other sciences sought to emulate. His four "rules of reasoning" are: Galileo Galilei (Pisa, February 15, 1564 – Arcetri, January 8, 1642), was a Tuscan astronomer, philosopher, and physicist who is closely associated with the scientific revolution. ... A physical law or a law of nature is a scientific generalization based on empirical observations. ... Sir Isaac Newton in Knellers 1689 portrait Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1727 by the Julian calendar in use in England at the time; or 4 January 1643 – 31 March 1727 by the Gregorian calendar) was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, and alchemist who wrote...

  1. We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances.
  2. Therefore to the same natural effects we must, as far as possible, assign the same causes.
  3. The qualities of bodies, which admit neither intension nor remission of degrees, and which are found to belong to all bodies within the reach of our experiments, are to be esteemed the universal qualities of all bodies whatsoever.
  4. In experimental philosophy we are to look upon propositions collected by general induction from phænomena as accurately or very nearly true, notwithstanding any contrary hypotheses that may be imagined, till such time as other phænomena occur, by which they may either be made more accurate, or liable to exceptions.

But Newton also left an admonition about a theory of everything: A theory of everything (TOE) is a theory of theoretical physics and mathematics that fully explains and links together all known physical phenomena (i. ...

"To explain all nature is too difficult a task for any one man or even for any one age. 'Tis much better to do a little with certainty, and leave the rest for others that come after you, than to explain all things."

Some methods of reasoning were systematized by John Stuart Mill's Canons, which are five explicit statements of what can be discarded and what can be kept while building a hypothesis. George Boole and William Stanley Jevons also wrote on the principles of reasoning. John Stuart Mill (May 20, 1806 – May 8, 1873), aka JS Mill, an English philosopher and political economist, was an influential liberal thinker of the 19th century. ... This article is not about George Boolos, another mathematical logician. ... William Stanley Jevons (September 1, 1835 - August 13, 1882), English economist and logician, was born in Liverpool. ...


These attempts to systematize a scientific method were faced with the Problem of induction, which points out that inductive reasoning is not logically valid. David Hume set the difficulty out in detail. Karl Popper, following others, argued that a hypothesis must be falsifiable. Difficulties with this have led to the rejection of the idea that there exists a single method that applies to all science, and that serves to distinguish science from non-science. The Problem of Induction is the philosophical issue involved in deciding the place of induction in determining empirical truth. ... David Hume David Hume (April 26, 1711 – August 25, 1776) was a Scottish philosopher and historian and, with Adam Smith and Thomas Reid among others, one of the most important figures in the Scottish Enlightenment. ... Karl Popper Sir Karl Raimund Popper (July 28, 1902 – September 17, 1994), was an Austrian-born, British philosopher of science. ... This page discusses how a theory or assertion is falsifiable (disprovable opp: verifiable), rather than the non-philosophical use of falsification, meaning counterfeiting. ...


In the past century, some statistical methods have been developed, for reasoning in the face of uncertainty, as an outgrowth of statistical hypothesis testing for eliminating error, an echo of the program of Francis Bacon's Novum Organum. Decision theory is an interdisciplinary area of study, related to and of interest to practitioners in mathematics, statistics, economics, philosophy, management and psychology. ... One may be faced with the problem of making a definite decision with respect to an uncertain hypothesis which is known only through its observable consequences. ... The Novum Organum is a philosophical work by Francis Bacon. ...


The question of how science operates has importance well beyond scientific circles or the academic community. In the judicial system and in public policy controversies, for example, a study's deviation from accepted scientific practice is grounds for rejecting it as junk science or pseudoscience. What is science? There are different theories of what science is. ... Junk science is a term used to derogate purportedly scientific data, research, analyses or claims which are driven by political, financial or other questionable motives. ... A pseudoscience is any body of knowledge purported to be scientific or supported by science but which fails to comply with the scientific method. ...


Elements of a scientific method

The essential elements of a scientific method are iterations and recursions of the following four steps: Iteration is the repetition of a process, typically within a computer program. ... In mathematics and computer science, recursion is a particular way of specifying (or constructing) a class of objects (or an object from a certain class) with the help of a reference to other objects of the class: a recursive definition defines objects in terms of the already defined objects of...

  1. Characterization (Quantification, observation and measurement)
  2. Hypothesis (a theoretical, hypothetical explanation) of the observations and measurements
  3. Prediction (logical deduction from the hypothesis)
  4. Experiment (test of all of the above)

The above is a hypothetico-deductive method, and includes observation in the first and fourth steps. Each step is subject to peer review for possible mistakes. These activities do not describe all that scientists do (see below) but apply mostly to experimental sciences (e.g., physics, chemistry). The steps above are often taught in education1. An explanation is a statement which points to causes, context and consequences of some object (or process, state of affairs etc. ... Logic (from ancient Greek λόγος (logos), originally meaning the word, or what is spoken, but coming to mean thought or reason) is the study of arguments. ... There are several meanings for the word deduction: Natural deduction Deductive reasoning Deductions in terms of taxation, such as Itemized deductions Standard deduction See also: Logic Venn diagram Inductive reasoning Both statistics and the scientific method rely on both induction and deduction. ... A hypothesis (= assumption in ancient Greek) is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. ... The words test and testing have many meanings: Testing or experimentation is part of the scientific method, to verify or falsify an already formed expectation with an observation. ... This article or section should include material from Hypothetico deductive model The hypothetico-deductive method is a theory about scientific method. ... Observation basically means watching something and taking note of anything it does. ... Peer review (known as refereeing in some academic fields) is a scholarly process used in the publication of manuscripts and in the awarding of funding for research. ...


Science is a social activity. The process is subject to evaluation by scientists directly involved, or by the scientific community, at any stage. A scientific theory (or proposal) becomes accepted only once it is validated by others (through publication or, ideally, a peer reviewed publication) and criticized. Peer review (known as refereeing in some academic fields) is a scholarly process used in the publication of manuscripts and in the awarding of funding for research. ...


Characterization

A scientific method depends upon a careful characterization of the subject of the investigation. (The subject can also be called the problem or the unknown.) While seeking the pertinent properties of the subject, this careful thought may also entail some definitions and observations; the observation often demands careful measurement and/or counting. This is a list of lists of unsolved problems in various subjects: Unsolved problems in mathematics Unsolved problems in physics Unsolved problems in chemistry Unsolved problems in biology Unsolved problems in economics Unsolved problems in governance Unsolved problems in cognitive science Unsolved problems in neuroscience Unsolved problems in computer science... Observation basically means watching something and taking note of anything it does. ... Measurement is the determination of the size or magnitude of something. ...


The systematic, careful collection of measurements or counts of relevant quantities is often the critical difference between pseudo-sciences, such as alchemy, and a science, such as chemistry. Scientific measurements taken are usually tabulated, graphed, or mapped, and statistical manipulations, such as correlation and regression, performed on them. The measurements may be made in a controlled setting, such as a laboratory, or made on more or less inaccessible or unmanipulatable objects such as stars or human populations. The measurements often require specialized scientific instruments such as thermometers, spectroscopes, or voltmeters, and the progress of a scientific field is usually intimately tied to their invention and development. (Note: The term correlation is sometimes used to specify the cross-correlation of two functions, and sometimes to specify the correlation coefficient between two random variables. ... Generally, regression is a move backwards. ...


Measurements demand the use of operational definitions of relevant quantities. That is, a scientific quantity is described or defined by how it is measured, as opposed to some more vague, inexact or "idealized" definition. For example, electrical current, measured in Amperes, may be operationally defined in terms of the mass of silver deposited in a certain time on an electrode in an electrochemical device that is described in some detail. The operational definition of a thing often relies on comparisons with standards: the operational definition of "mass" ultimately relies on the use of an artifact, such as a certain kilogram of platinum kept in a laboratory in France. An operational definition of a quantity is a specific process whereby it is measured. ... In electricity, current is the rate of flow of charges, usually through a metal wire or some other electrical conductor. ...


The scientific definition of a term sometimes differs substantially from their natural language usage. For example, mass and weight are often used interchangeably in common discourse, but have distinct meanings in physics. Scientific quantities often have dimensions and are described in terms of certain physical units. The term natural language is used to distinguish languages spoken by humans for general-purpose communication from constructs such as computer-programming languages or the languages used in the study of formal logic, especially mathematical logic. ... Mass is a property of physical objects that, roughly speaking, measures the amount of matter they contain. ... Weight is the force exerted upon an object by virtue of its position in a gravitational field. ... Dimension (from Latin measured out) is, in essence, the number of degrees of freedom available for movement in a space. ... In physics and metrology, units are standards for measurement of physical quantities that need clear definitions to be useful. ...


Measurements in scientific work are also usually accompanied by estimates of their uncertainty. The uncertainty is often estimated by making repeated measurements of the desired quantity. Uncertainties may also be calculated by consideration of the uncertainties of the individual underlying quantities that are used. Counts of things, such as the number of people in a nation at a particular time, may also have an uncertainty due to limitations of the method used. Counts may only represent a sample of desired quantities, with an uncertainty that depends upon the sampling method used and the number of samples taken. Uncertainty is an inevitable part of the assertion of knowledge, see Bayesian probability. ...


New theories sometimes arise upon realizing that certain terms had not previously been sufficiently clearly defined. For example, Albert Einstein's first paper on relativity begins by defining simultaneity and the means for determining length. These ideas were skipped over by Isaac Newton with, "I do not define time, space, place and motion, as being well known to all." Einstein's paper then demonstrates that they (viz., absolute time and length independent of motion) were approximations. Portrait of Albert Einstein taken by Yousuf Karsh on February 11, 1948 Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955) was a theoretical physicist who is widely regarded as the greatest scientist of the 20th century. ... In physics, the term relativity is used in several related contexts: Galileo first developed the principle of relativity, being the postulate that the laws of physics should take the same form for all observers in uniform motion with respect to each other. ... Simultaneity is the property of two events happening at the same time. ... In general English usage, length (symbol: l) is but one particular instance of distance – an objects length is how long the object is – but in the physical sciences and engineering, the word length is in some contexts used synonymously with distance. Height is vertical distance; width (or breadth) is... Sir Isaac Newton in Knellers 1689 portrait Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1727 by the Julian calendar in use in England at the time; or 4 January 1643 – 31 March 1727 by the Gregorian calendar) was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, and alchemist who wrote... In physics, the treatment of time is a central issue. ... This article is about motion in physics. ...


The precession of the perihelion of the orbit of Mercury

The characterization phase can require extended and extensive study, even centuries. It took thousands of years of measurements, from the Chaldean, Indian, Persian, Greek, Arabic and European astronomers, to record the precession of the planet Earth. Newton was able to condense these measurements into consequences of his laws of motion. But the perihelion of the planet Mercury's orbit exhibits a precession which is not fully explained by Newton's laws of motion. The observed difference for Mercury's precession, between Newtonian theory and relativistic theory (on the order of 42 arc-seconds per century), was one of the pieces of evidence for Einstein's characterization of his theory of General Relativity. This consequence (a difference in the values for this precession of 43 arc-seconds per century) was known only after the Schwarzschild solution to the Einstein field equation was published in 1916. Chaldea was a nation in the southern portion of Babylonia, Lower Mesopotamia, lying chiefly on the right bank of the Euphrates, but commonly used to refer to the whole of the Mesopotamian plain. ... Persian art is conscious of a great past, and monumental in many respects. ... There are three factors which may assist to varying degrees in determining whether someone is considered Arab or not: Political: whether they live in a country which is a member of the Arab League (or, more vaguely, the Arab world); this definition covers more than 300 million people. ... This article is about the continent. ... Precession (also called gyroscopic precession) is the phenomenon by which the axis of a spinning object (e. ... Earth, also known as the Earth or Terra, is the third planet outward from the Sun. ... In the article vector quantities are written in bold whereas scalar ones are in italics. ... This article is about several astronomical terms (apogee & perigee, aphelion & perihelion, generic equivalents based on apsis, and related but rarer terms. ... Atmospheric characteristics Atmospheric pressure trace Potassium 31. ... In physics, an orbit is the path that an object makes, around another object, whilst under the influence of a source of centripetal force, such as gravity. ... Two-dimensional visualisation of space-time distortion. ... For other topics related to Einstein see Einstein (disambig) In physics, the Einstein field equation or the Einstein equation is a tensor equation in the theory of gravitation. ... 1916 is a leap year starting on Saturday (link will take you to calendar) Events January-February January 1 -The first successful blood transfusion using blood that had been stored and cooled. ...


DNA/characterization

The history of the discovery of the structure of DNA is a classic example of the four stages of the scientific method: in 1950 it was known that genetic inheritance had a mathematical description, starting with the studies of Gregor Mendel. But the mechanism of the gene was unclear. Researchers in Bragg's laboratory at Cambridge University made X-ray diffraction pictures of various molecules, starting with crystals of salt, and proceeding to more complicated substances. Using clues which were painstakingly assembled over the course of decades, beginning with its chemical composition, it was determined that it should be possible to characterize the physical structure of DNA, and the X-ray images would be the vehicle. ...More... Space-filling model of a section of DNA molecule Deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA) is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions specifying the biological development of all cellular forms of life (and many viruses). ... Space-filling model of a section of DNA molecule Deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA) is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions specifying the biological development of all cellular forms of life (and many viruses). ... 1950 was a common year starting on Sunday (link will take you to calendar). ... Biological inheritance is the process by which an offspring cell or organism acquires or becomes predisposed to characteristics of its parent cell or organism. ... Gregor Johann Mendel (July 22, 1822 – January 6, 1884) was an Austrian monk who is often called the father of genetics for his study of the inheritance of traits in pea plants. ... William Lawrence Bragg William Lawrence Bragg (March 31, 1890 - July 1, 1971) was a physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1915. ... The University of Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world (after Oxford). ... In the NATO phonetic alphabet, X-ray represents the letter X. An X-ray picture (radiograph) taken by Röntgen An X-ray is a form of electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength approximately in the range of 5 pm to 10 nanometers (corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 PHz... Diffraction is the apparent bending and spreading of waves when they meet an obstruction. ... In science, a molecule is the smallest particle of a pure chemical substance that still retains its chemical composition and properties. ... Quartz crystal A crystal is a solid in which the constituent atoms, molecules, or ions are packed in a regularly ordered, repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. ... In chemistry, salt is a general term used for ionic compounds composed of positively charged cations and negatively charged anions, so that the product is neutral and without a net charge. ...


Hypothesis development

A hypothesis includes a suggested explanation of the subject. It will generally provide a causal explanation or propose some correlation. A hypothesis (= assumption in ancient Greek) is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. ... The philosophical concept of causality or causation refers to the set of all particular causal or cause-and-effect relations. ...


Observations have the general form of existential statements, stating that some particular instance of the phenomenon being studied has some characteristic. Causal explanations have the general form of universal statements, stating that every instance of the phenomenon has a particular characteristic. It is not deductively valid to infer a universal statement from any series of particular observations. This is the problem of induction. Many solutions to this problem have been suggested, including falsifiability and Bayesian inference. In predicate logic, existential quantification is an attempt to formalize the notion that something (a logical predicate) is true for something, or at least one relevant thing. ... In predicate logic, universal quantification is an attempt to formalise the notion that something (a logical predicate) is true for everything, or every relevant thing. ... In logic, an argument is said to be valid if the truth of the conclusion follows from the truth of the premises. ... The Problem of Induction is the philosophical issue involved in deciding the place of induction in determining empirical truth. ... This page discusses how a theory or assertion is falsifiable (disprovable opp: verifiable), rather than the non-philosophical use of falsification, meaning counterfeiting. ... Bayesian inference is statistical inference in which probabilities are interpreted not as frequencies or proportions or the like, but rather as degrees of belief. ...


Scientists use whatever they can — their own creativity, ideas from other fields, induction, systematic guessing, etc. — to imagine possible explanations for a phenomenon under study. There are no definitive guidelines for the production of new hypotheses. The history of science is filled with stories of scientists claiming a "flash of inspiration", or a hunch, which then motivated them to look for evidence to support or refute their idea. Michael Polanyi made such creativity the centrepiece of his discussion of methodology. The term induction has more than one meaning in the English language. ... Michael Polanyi (March 11, 1891 - February 22, 1976) was a Hungarian/ British polymath whose thought and work extended across physical chemistry, economics, and philosophy. ...


DNA/hypothesis

For example, in the race to determine the structure of DNA, Francis Crick and James Watson hypothesized that this molecule had a helical structure: two intertwined spirals. But Linus Pauling was about to embark on serious study of the molecule; he was hypothesizing a triple helix. ...More... Space-filling model of a section of DNA molecule Deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA) is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions specifying the biological development of all cellular forms of life (and many viruses). ... Photomontage of Francis Crick lecturing Francis Harry Compton Crick, OM (June 8, 1916 – July 28, 2004) was one of the discoverers of the structure of the DNA molecule. ... There is more than one person with the name James Watson: James Watson, author of the novel Talking in Whispers James Watson, U.S. Senator from New York (1797-1801) James Watson, painter of 77 portraits held by the U.S. National Portrait Gallery [[1]] James Watson, British radical, Chartist... Pauling lectured at Osaka University in 1955. ...


Prediction from the hypothesis

A useful hypothesis will enable predictions, by deductive reasoning, that can be experimentally assessed. If results contradict the predictions, then the hypothesis under test is incorrect or incomplete and requires either revision or abandonment. If results confirm the predictions, then the hypothesis might be correct but is still subject to further testing. Prediction of future events is an ancient human wish. ... Deductive reasoning is the process of reaching a conclusion that is guaranteed to follow, if the evidence provided is true and the reasoning used to reach the conclusion is correct. ...


Einstein's theory of General Relativity makes several specific predictions about the observable structure of space-time, such as a prediction that light bends in a gravitational field and that the amount of bending depends in a precise way on the strength of that gravitational field. Arthur Eddington's observations made during a 1919 solar eclipse supported General Relativity rather than Newtonian gravitation. Two-dimensional visualisation of space-time distortion. ... In special relativity and general relativity, time and three-dimensional space are treated together as a single four-dimensional pseudo-Riemannian manifold called spacetime. ... Prism splitting light Light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength that is visible to the eye, or in a more general sense, any electromagnetic radiation in the range from infrared to ultraviolet. ... The gravitational field is a field that causes bodies with mass to attract each other. ... One of Sir Arthur Stanley Eddingtons papers announced Einsteins theory of general relativity to the English-speaking world. ... 1919 was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... Photo taken by John Walker during the Zambia 2001 eclipse A solar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Moon and Earth are on a single line with the Moon in the middle. ... This article covers the physics of gravitation. ...


Predictions refer to experiment designs with a currently unknown outcome; the classic example was Edmund Halley's prediction of the year of return of Halley's comet which returned after his death. A prediction (of an unknown) differs from a consequence (which can already be known). Comet Halley as taken with the Halley Multicolor Camera on the ESA Giotto mission. ... Consequence can be: Consequences is a game. ...


DNA/prediction

When Watson and Crick hypothesized that DNA was a double helix, Francis Watson predicted that a X-ray diffraction image of DNA would show an X-shape. ...More...


Experiment

Once a prediction is made, an experiment is designed to test it. The experiment may seek either confirmation or falsification of the hypothesis. Yet an experiment is not an absolute requirement. From Latin ex- + -periri (akin to periculum attempt). ... Confirmation can refer to: Confirmation (sacrament) Confirmation (epistemology) This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Falsification is the act of disproving a theory. ...

In observation based fields of science actual experiments must be designed differently than for the classical laboratory based sciences; for example, the observations of the Chaldeans were utilized in the work of Al-Batani, when he determined a value for the precession of the Earth, in work that spanned thousands of years. This is an article about the ancient middle eastern region. ... Centuries: 6th century BC - 5th century BC - 4th century BC Decades: 540s BC 530s BC 520s BC 510s BC 500s BC - 490s BC - 480s BC 470s BC 460s BC 450s BC 440s BC Years: 497 BC 496 BC 495 BC 494 BC 493 BC - 492 BC - 491 BC 490 BC... Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago The Field Museum of Natural History, in Chicago, Illinois, USA, sits on Lake Shore Drive next to Lake Michigan, part of a scenic complex called known as the Museum Campus which includes Soldier Field, the football stadium that is the home of the Chicago... Chicago (officially named the City of Chicago) is the third largest city in the United States (after New York City and Los Angeles), with an official population of 2,896,016, as of the 2000 census. ... This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Chaldea was a nation in the southern portion of Babylonia, Lower Mesopotamia, lying chiefly on the right bank of the Euphrates, but commonly used to refer to the whole of the Mesopotamian plain. ... Al Battani (ca. ...


Scientists assume an attitude of openness and accountability on the part of those conducting an experiment. Detailed recordkeeping is essential, to aid in recording and reporting on the experimental results, and providing evidence of the effectiveness and integrity of the procedure. They will also assist in reproducing the experimental results. This tradition can be seen in the work of Hipparchus (190 BCE - 120 BCE), over 2100 years ago. Hipparchus (Greek Ἳππαρχος) (circa 190 BC – circa 120 BC) was a Greek astronomer, geographer, and mathematician. ...


The experiment's integrity should be ascertained by the introduction of a control. Two virtually identical experiments are run, in only one of which the factor being tested is varied. This serves to further isolate any causal phenomena. For example in testing a drug it is important to carefully test that the supposed effect of the drug is produced only by the drug. Doctors may do this with a double-blind study: two virtually identical groups of patients are compared, one of which receives the drug and one of which receives a placebo. Neither the patients nor the doctor know who is getting the real drug, isolating its effects. Many drugs are provided in tablet form. ... Double-blind describes an especially stringent way of conducting an experiment, usually on living, conscious, human subjects. ... A patient is the name given to any person who is ill or injured and is being treated by, or in need of treatment by, a physician or other medical professional. ... For alternative meanings, see Placebo (disambiguation) A placebo is a medical treatment (operation, therapy, chemical solution, pill, etc. ...


Once an experiment is complete, a researcher determines whether the results (or data) gathered are what was predicted. If the experimental conclusions fail to match the predictions/hypothesis, then one returns to the failed hypothesis and re-iterates the process. If the experiment(s) appears "successful" - i.e. fits the hypothesis - then its details become published so that others (in theory) may reproduce the same experimental results.


DNA/experiment

When James Watson was sent to investigate what Rosalind Franklin had found in her X-ray diffraction images of DNA, he saw the X-shape (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/photo51/) which Crick had predicted for a helical structure. ...More... Rosalind Franklin Rosalind Elsie Franklin (July 25, 1920 - April 16, 1958) was a British physical chemist and crystallographer who made important contributions to the understanding of the fine structures of coal, DNA and viruses. ...


Evaluation and iteration

Testing and improvement

The scientific process is iterative. At any stage it is possible that some consideration will lead the scientist to repeat an earlier part of the process. Failure to develop an interesting hypothesis may lead a scientist to re-define the subject they are considering. Failure of a hypothesis to produce interesting and testable predictions may lead to reconsideration of the hypothesis or of the definition of the subject. Failure of the experiment to produce interesting results may lead the scientist to reconsidering the experimental method, the hypothesis or the definition of the subject.


DNA/impact

After James Watson and Francis Crick's breakthrough discovery, an entire field of study was legitimized: molecular biology. Watson was able to deduce the essential structure of DNA by concrete modelling of the physical shapes of the nucleotides which comprise it. He was guided by the bond lengths which had been deduced by Linus Pauling. In all of this, the nature of the chemical bond had been characterized by the theory of quantum mechanics. ...Back... There is more than one person with the name James Watson: James Watson, author of the novel Talking in Whispers James Watson, U.S. Senator from New York (1797-1801) James Watson, painter of 77 portraits held by the U.S. National Portrait Gallery [[1]] James Watson, British radical, Chartist... Photomontage of Francis Crick lecturing Francis Harry Compton Crick, OM (June 8, 1916 – July 28, 2004) was one of the discoverers of the structure of the DNA molecule. ... Molecular biology is the study of biology at a molecular level. ... Space-filling model of a section of DNA molecule Deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA) is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions specifying the biological development of all cellular forms of life (and many viruses). ... A nucleotide is an organic molecule consisting of a heterocyclic nucleobase (a purine or a pyrimidine), a pentose sugar (deoxyribose in DNA or ribose in RNA), and a phosphate or polyphosphate group. ... Pauling lectured at Osaka University in 1955. ... In chemistry, a chemical bond is the force which holds together atoms in molecules or crystals. ... Fig. ...


Verification

Science is a social enterprise, and scientific work will become accepted by the community only if they can be verified. Crucially, experimental and theoretical results must be reproduced by others within the science community. Researchers have given their lives for this vision; Georg Wilhelm Richmann was killed by ball lightning to his forehead when attempting to replicate the 1752 kite experiment of Benjamin Franklin. Georg Wilhelm Richmann (Russian: Георг Вильгельм Рихман) ( July 22, 1711 ( old style: July 11, 1711) – August 6, 1753 ( old style: July 26, 1753)) was a Russian physicist. ... Ball Lightning Ball lightning is a natural phenomenon associated with thunderstorms and takes the form of a long-lived, glowing, floating object, as opposed to the short-lived arcing between two points seen in common lightning. ... 1752 was a leap year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar). ... A kite is a man-made, heavier-than-air object, designed to fly by opposing the force of the wind with the tension of a string held by the operator. ... From Latin ex- + -periri (akin to periculum attempt). ... Franklin, an engraving from a painting by Duplessis Dr. Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 – April 17, 1790) was an American printer, journalist, publisher, author, philanthropist, abolitionist, public servant, scientist, librarian, diplomat, and inventor. ...


Reevaluation

All scientific knowledge is in a state of flux, for at any time new evidence could be presented that contradicts a long-held hypothesis. A particularly luminous example is the theory of light. Light had long been supposed to be made of particles. Isaac Newton, and before him many of the Classical Greeks, was convinced it was so, but his light-is-particles account was overturned by evidence in favor of a wave theory of light suggested most notably in the early 1800s by Thomas Young, an English physician. Light as waves neatly explained the observed diffraction and interference of light when, to the contrary, the light-as-a-particle theory did not. The wave interpretation of light was widely held to be unassailably correct for most of the 19th century. Around the turn of the century, however, observations were made that a wave theory of light could not explain. This new set of observations could be accounted for by Max Planck's quantum theory (including the photoelectric effect and Brownian motion—both from Albert Einstein), but not by a wave theory of light. Nor, for that matter, by the particle theory. More ... Prism splitting light Light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength that is visible to the eye, or in a more general sense, any electromagnetic radiation in the range from infrared to ultraviolet. ... Sir Isaac Newton in Knellers 1689 portrait Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1727 by the Julian calendar in use in England at the time; or 4 January 1643 – 31 March 1727 by the Gregorian calendar) was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, and alchemist who wrote... In physics, wave-particle duality holds that light and matter simultaneously exhibit properties of waves and of particles (or photons). ... Thomas Young, English scientist Thomas Young (June 13, 1773 – May 10, 1829) was an English scientist and researcher. ... This article is about Planck, the German physicist. ... The photoelectric effect is the emission of electrons from a surface (usually metallic) upon exposure to, and absorption of, electromagnetic radiation (such as visible light and ultraviolet radiation) that is above the threshold frequency particular to each type of surface. ... An example of 1000 steps of Brownian motion in two dimensions. ... Portrait of Albert Einstein taken by Yousuf Karsh on February 11, 1948 Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955) was a theoretical physicist who is widely regarded as the greatest scientist of the 20th century. ... A theory of everything (TOE) is a theory of theoretical physics and mathematics that fully explains and links together all known physical phenomena (i. ...


Peer review evaluation

Scientific journals use a process of peer review, in which scientists' manuscripts are submitted by editors of scientific journals to (usually one to three) fellow (usually anonymous) scientists familiar with the field for evaluation. The referees may or may not recommend publication, publication with suggested modifications, or, sometimes, publication in another journal. This serves to keep the scientific literature free of unscientific or crackpot work, helps to cut down on obvious errors, and generally otherwise improve the quality of the scientific literature. Work announced in the popular press before going through this process is generally frowned upon. Sometimes peer review inhibits the circulation of unorthodox work, and at other times may be too permissive. The peer review process is not always successful, but has been very widely adopted by the scientific community. Peer review (known as refereeing in some academic fields) is a scholarly process used in the publication of manuscripts and in the awarding of funding for research. ...


Reproducibility

The reproducibility or replication of scientific observations, while usually described as being very important in a scientific method, is actually seldom actually reported, and is in reality often not done. Referees and editors rightfully and generally reject papers purporting only to reproduce some observations as being unoriginal and not containing anything new. Occasionally reports of a failure to reproduce results are published--mostly in cases where controversy exists or a suspicion of fraud develops. The threat of failure to replicate by others, however, serves as a very effective deterrent for most scientists, who will usually replicate their own data several times before attempting to publish.


Sometimes useful observations or phenomena themselves cannot be reproduced. They may be unique events. How does one reproduce the extinction of a dinosaur by a huge meteor? But measurements of the concentration of iridium (used to infer the meteor) in sediment at different places can, and should be done by different laboratories and different methods too.


Reproducibility of observations and replication of experiments is not a guarantee that they are correct or properly understood. Errors can all too often creep into more than one laboratory. There are no easy guarantees.


Evidence and assumptions

Evidence comes in different forms and quality, mostly due to underlying assumptions. An underlying assumption that 'objects heavier than air fall to the ground when dropped' is not likely to incite much disagreement. An underlying assumption like 'aliens abduct humans' however is an extraordinary claim which requires solid proof. Many extraordinary claims also do not survive Occam's razor. Occams Razor (also Ockhams Razor or any of several other spellings), is a principle attributed to the 14th century English logician and Franciscan friar, William of Ockham that forms the basis of methodological reductionism, also called the principle of parsimony. ...


Elegance of hypothesis

In evaluating a hypothesis, scientists tend to look for theories that are "elegant" or "beautiful". In contrast to the usual English use of these terms, scientists have more specific meanings in mind. "Elegance" (or "beauty") refers to the ability of a theory to neatly explain as many of the known facts as possible, as simply as possible, or at least in a manner consistent with Occam's Razor while at the same time being aesthetically pleasing. Elegance is the attribute of being tastefully designed or decorated, with focus on basic features. ... Many see natural beauty in the folded petals of a rose This page is about the pleasant phenomenon. ... Occams Razor (also Ockhams Razor or any of several other spellings), is a principle attributed to the 14th century English logician and Franciscan friar, William of Ockham that forms the basis of methodological reductionism, also called the principle of parsimony. ...


Philosophical issues

The study of a scientific method is distinct from the practice of science and is more a part of the philosophy, history and sociology of science than of science. While such studies have limited direct impact on day-to-day scientific practice, they have a vital role in justifying and defending the scientific approach. The philosophy of science is the branch of philosophy which studies the philosophical foundations, presumptions and implications of science both of the natural sciences like physics and biology and the social sciences such as psychology and economics. ... Modern science is a body of verifiable empirical knowledge, a global community of scholars, and a set of techniques for investigating the universe known as the scientific method. ... In academics, science studies (sometimes seen as science and technology studies) is an umbrella term for a number of approaches devoted to studying science, and as a discipline its participants often come from a wide variety of disciplines, usually history of science, sociology of science, philosophy of science, sociology of...


We find ourselves in a world that is not directly understandable. We find that we sometimes disagree with others as to the facts of the things we see in the world around us, and we find that there are things in the world that sometimes are at odds with our present understanding. The scientific method attempts to provide a way in which we can reach agreement and understanding. A perfect scientific method would work in such a way that rational application of the method would always result in agreement and understanding; in effect a perfect method would not leave any room for rational agents to disagree. Philosophers of science have long sought such a method. The material presented below is intended to show that, as with all philosophical topics, the search has been neither straightforward nor simple. Fact is the following: Generally a fact is an event that has happened, or a statement that is generally regarded as true — whether one accepts it as real (true) or not. ... In philosophy, the word rationality has been used to describe numerous religious and philosophical theories, especially those concerned with truth, reason, and knowledge. ... Philosophy (from a combination of the Greek words philos meaning love and sophia meaning wisdom), as a practice, aims at some kind of understanding, knowledge or wisdom about fundamental matters such as reality, knowledge, meaning, value, being and truth. ...


Theory-dependence of observation

A scientific method depends on observation, in defining the subject under investigation and in performing experiments.


Observation involves perception, and so is a cognitive process. That is, one does not make an observation passively, but is actively involved in distinguishing the thing being observed from surrounding sensory data. Therefore, observations depend on some underlying understanding of the way in which the world functions, and that understanding may influence what is perceived, noticed, or deemed worthy of consideration. (See the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis for an early version of this understanding of the impact of cultural artifacts on our perceptions of the world.) The philosophy of perception concerns how mental processes and symbols depend on the world internal and external to the perceiver. ... The term cognition is used in several different loosely related ways. ... In linguistics, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (SWH) states that there is a systematic relationship between the grammatical categories of the language a person speaks and how that person both understands the world and behaves in it. ...


Empirical observation is supposedly used to determine the acceptability of some hypothesis within a theory. When someone claims to have made an observation, it is reasonable to ask them to justify their claim. Such a justification must make reference to the theory - operational definitions and hypotheses - in which the observation is embedded. That is, the observation is a component of the theory that also contains the hypothesis it either verifies or falsifies. But this means that the observation cannot serve as a neutral arbiter between competing hypotheses. Observation could only do this "neutrally" if it were independent of the theory.


Thomas Kuhn denied that it is ever possible to isolate the theory being tested from the influence of the theory in which the observations are grounded. He argued that observations always rely on a specific paradigm, and that it is not possible to evaluate competing paradigms independently. By "paradigm" he meant, essentially, a logically consistent "portrait" of the world, one that involves no logical contradictions. More than one such logically consistent construct can each paint a usable likeness of the world, but it is pointless to pit them against each other, theory against theory. Neither is a standard by which the other can be judged. Instead, the question is which "portrait" is judged by some set of people to promise the most in terms of “puzzle solving”. Thomas Samuel Kuhn (July 18, 1922 – June 17, 1996) was an American intellectual who wrote extensively on the history of science and developed several important notions in the philosophy of science. ...


For Kuhn, the choice of paradigm was sustained by, but not ultimately determined by, logical processes. The individual's choice between paradigms involves setting two or more “portraits" against the world and deciding which likeness is most promising. In the case of a general acceptance of one paradigm or another, Kuhn believed that it represented the consensus of the community of scientists. Acceptance or rejection of some paradigm is, he argued, more a social than a logical process.


That observation is embedded in theory does not mean that observations are irrelevant to science. Scientific understanding derives from observation, but the acceptance of scientific statements is dependent on the related theoretical background or paradigm as well as on observation. Coherentism and scepticism offer alternatives to foundationalism for dealing with the difficulty of grounding scientific theories in something more than observations. Coherentism is belief in the coherence theory of justification — an epistemological theory opposing foundationalism and offering a solution to the regress argument. ... Skepticism (Commonwealth spelling: Scepticism) can mean: Philosophical skepticism - a philosophical position in which people choose to critically examine whether the knowledge and perceptions that they have are actually true, and whether or not one can ever be said to have absolutely true knowledge; or Scientific skepticism - a scientific, or practical... Foundationalism is any theory in epistemology (typically, theories of justification, but also of knowledge) that holds that beliefs are justified (known, etc. ...


Indeterminacy of theory under empirical testing

The Quine-Duhem thesis points out that any theory can be made compatible with any empirical observation by the addition of suitable ad hoc hypotheses. This is analogous to the way in which an infinite number of curves can be drawn through any set of data points on a graph. W. V. Quine Willard Van Orman Quine (June 25, 1908 - December 25, 2000) was one of the most influential American philosophers and logicians of the 20th century. ... Pierre Maurice Marie Duhem (10 June 1861 – 14 September 1916) French physicist and philosopher of science. ...


This thesis was accepted by Karl Popper, leading him to reject naïve falsification in favour of 'survival of the fittest', or most falsifiable, of scientific theories. In Popper's view, any hypothesis that does not make testable predictions is simply not science. Such a hypothesis may be useful or valuable, but it cannot be said to be science. Confirmation holism, developed by W. V. Quine, states that empirical data is not sufficient to make a judgement between theories. A theory can always be made to fit with the available empirical data. Karl Popper Sir Karl Raimund Popper (July 28, 1902 – September 17, 1994), was an Austrian-born, British philosopher of science. ... This page discusses how a theory or assertion is falsifiable (disprovable opp: verifiable), rather than the non-philosophical use of falsification, meaning counterfeiting. ... Confirmational holism is the claim that scientific theories are confirmed or disconfirmed as a whole. ... W. V. Quine Willard Van Orman Quine (June 25, 1908 - December 25, 2000) was one of the most influential American philosophers and logicians of the 20th century. ...


That empirical evidence does not serve to determine between alternate theories does not imply that all theories are of equal value. Rather than pretending to use a universally applicable methodological principle, the scientist is making a personal choice when she chooses some particular theory over another.


One result of this is that specialists in the philosophy of science stress the requirement that observations made for the purposes of science be restricted to intersubjective objects. That is, science is restricted to those areas where there is general agreement on the nature of the observations involved. It is comparatively easy to agree on observations of physical phenomena, harder for them to agree on observations of social or mental phenomena, and difficult in the extreme to reach agreement on matters of theology or ethics.


Demarcation

Scientific Method is touted as one way of determining which disciplines are scientific and which are not. Those which follow a scientific method might be considered sciences; those that do not are not. That is, method might be used as the criterion of demarcation between science and non-science. If it is not possible to articulate a definitive method, then it may also not be possible to articulate a definitive distinction between science and non-science, between science and pseudo-science, and between scientists and non-scientists. The demarcation problem in the philosophy of science is about how and where to draw the lines around science. ...


Feyerabend denies there is a scientific method, and in his book Against Method argues that scientific progress is not the result of the application of any particular method. In essence, he says that anything goes. Paul Karl Feyerabend (January 13, 1924 - February 11, 1994) was an Austrian-born philosopher of science, who later lived in England, the United States, New Zealand, Switzerland and Italy. ... Paul Karl Feyerabend (January 13, 1924 _ February 11, 1994) was an Austrian_born philosopher of science, who later lived in England, the United States, New Zealand, Italy, and finally Switzerland. ...


Science as a communal activity

In his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Kuhn argues that the process of observation and evaluation take place within a paradigm. 'A paradigm is what the members of a community of scientists share, and, conversely, a scientific community consists of men who share a paradigm' (postscript, part 1). On this account, science can be done only as a part of a community, and is inherently a communal activity. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Thomas Kuhn, 1962) is an analysis of the history of science. ...


For Kuhn the fundamental difference between science and other disciplines is in the way in which the communities function. Others, especially Feyerabend and some post-modernist thinkers, have argued that there is insufficient difference between social practices in science and other disciplines to maintain this distinction. It is apparent that social factors play an important and direct role in scientific method, but that they do not serve to differentiate science from other disciplines. Furthermore, although on this account science is socially constructed, it does not follow that reality is a social construct. Kuhn’s ideas are equally applicable to both realist and anti-realist ontologies.


The definition of a scientific method is debatable and contended. Positivist, empiricist, and falsificationist theories are unable to satisfy their aim of giving a definitive account of the logic of science. The sociology of science may be incapable of accounting for the success of the scientific enterprise. This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Empiricism is generally regarded as being at the heart of the modern scientific method, that our theories should be based on our observations of the world rather than on intuition or faith; that is, empirical research and a posteriori inductive reasoning rather than purely deductive logic. ... This page discusses how a theory or assertion is falsifiable (disprovable opp: verifiable), rather than the non-philosophical use of falsification, meaning counterfeiting. ... Scientific enterprise refers to science-based projects developed by, or in cooperation with, private entrepreneurs. ...


Scientific thought

Carl Sagan, in his book The Demon-Haunted World, argues that we should use a scientific method as a tool for skeptical thinking. When we are presented with a new concept — ESP, for example — we should test the claims of its proponents against experiment ourselves (or gather evidence from as many sources as possible), and reject the theory if the evidence shows its claims to be false. Sagan was particularly interested in those movements which misrepresent science - pseudoscience or quackery. A respected astronomer and dogged critic of pseudoscience, Carl Sagan is best known for his enthusiastic efforts at popularizing science. ... The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark is a book by Carl Sagan. ... Scientific skepticism or rational skepticism (UK spelling, scepticism) sometimes referred to as skeptical inquiry, is a scientific, or practical, epistemological position (or paradigm) in which one does not accept the veracity of claims unless they can be scientifically verified. ... ESP can mean Extra-sensory perception Electronic Stability Program also known as Electronic Skid Prevention Effective Sensory Projection Electronic Shock Protection in Sony CD players Escapade, or ESP for short, is a server-side scripting language that is designed to provide an easy interface to database contents. ... A pseudoscience is any body of knowledge purported to be scientific or supported by science but which fails to comply with the scientific method. ... Quackery is the practice of fraudulent medicine, usually in order to make money or for ego gratification and power. ...


Scientific method and the practice of science

The primary constraints on science are:

  • Publication, i.e. Peer review
  • Resources (mostly, funding)

It has not always been like this: in the old days of the "gentleman scientist" funding (and to a lesser extent publication) were far weaker constraints. Peer review (known as refereeing in some academic fields) is a scholarly process used in the publication of manuscripts and in the awarding of funding for research. ...


Both of these constraints indirectly bring in a scientific method — work that too obviously violates the constraints will be difficult to publish and difficult to get funded. Journals do not require submitted papers to conform to anything more specific than "good scientific practice" and this is mostly enforced by peer review. Originality, importance and interest are more important - see for example the author guidelines (http://www.nature.com/nature/submit/get_published/index.html) for Nature. Nature is one of the oldest and most reputable general-purpose scientific journals, first published on November 4, 1869. ...


Criticisms (see Critical theory) of these restraints are that they are so nebulous in definition (e.g. "good scientific practice") and open to ideological, or even political, manipulation apart from a rigorous practice of a scientific method, that they often serve to censor rather than promote scientific discovery. Apparent censorship through refusal to publish ideas unpopular with mainstream scientists (unpopular because of ideological reasons and/or because they seem to contradict long held scientific theories) has soured the popular perception of scientists as being neutral or seekers of truth and often denigrated popular perception of science as a whole. In the humanities and social sciences, critical theory is a general term for new theoretical developments (roughly since the 1960s) in a variety of fields, informed by structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, Marxist theory, and several other areas of thought. ...


Notes

Note 1:Teachers using inquiry as a teaching method sometimes teach a slightly modified version of a scientific method in which an inquiry, a "Question", is substituted for the first step of a scientific method: "Characterization, Observation, Definition, etc.". Inquiry education (sometimes known as the inquiry method) is a student-centered method of education focused on asking questions. ...


Historical references to scientific method

  • W. Stanley Jevons, 1874, 1877. The Principles of Science, 786pp., index. Reprinted by Dover, 1958, with a forward by Ernst Nagel.

William Stanley Jevons (September 1, 1835 - August 13, 1882), English economist and logician, was born in Liverpool. ... Events January - April January 1 - New York City annexes The Bronx January 23 - Marriage of the Duke of Edinburgh, second son of Queen Victoria, to Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna of Russia, only daughter of Emperor Alexander III of Russia. ... 1877 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Research - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1167 words)
Research is often described as an active, diligent, and systematic process of inquiry aimed at discovering, interpreting, and revising facts.
The term research is also used to describe a collection of information about a particular subject, and is usually associated with science and the scientific method.
It is not unusual for researchers to present their project in such a light as to 'slot' it into either applied or basic research, depending on the requirements of the funding sources.
Science - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (4161 words)
Scientists maintain that scientific investigation must adhere to the scientific method, a process for evaluating empirical knowledge that explains observable events in nature as results of natural causes, rejecting supernatural notions.
Workers in corporate research laboratories also practice science, although their results are often deemed trade secrets and not published in public journals.
While scientific journals communicate and document the results of research carried out in universities and various other institutions, science magazines cater to the needs of a wider readership.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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