Is there a method?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Juanchogespacho, Jan 11, 2014.

  1. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member


    The ^^above^^ Links cover them quite extensively - they have been posted throughout this Thread.

    Realistically though, leopold, if you are asking for "ALL" of the scientific methods that have ever or will ever be utilized, then Posting "ALL" of them would be somewhat impossible, would it not?
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  3. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    It seems to me what all the variations in the linked material have in common is the same basic cycling between reproducible observation, hypothesis and testing of the predictions of the hypothesis by more reproducible observation. How people do the observation or form the hypotheses is neither here nor there: no holds are barred and it can be as unstructured as you like.
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  5. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    Exactly, exchemist.

    The Links contain information on the various Scientific Methods and explanations to refute the common misconception that there is only a Singular Scientific Method that all Scientists in all the various Sciences follow.
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  7. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Make an observation: Many people do X.
    Develop a hypothesis: Doing X is evil and wrong.
    Test the hypothesis: Examine the Bible to see what God's Word has to say about practicing X.

    My point is that the whole thing is kind of meaningless until we fill it out with more content. It isn't a philosophy of science at all, at best it's just a vague schema around which a plausible philosophy of science might be built. In order to accomplish that we will have to inquire in much greater detail into observation, into hypothesis construction and into the nature of testing.

    No doubt even Homo erectus practiced trial-and-error. That fits within the schema too. 'Maybe this will work' (hypothesis). 'Try it' (test it). We might choose to call that proto-science or something.

    But I don't think that the scientific revolution and the rise of what we think of as modern science was the result of peole suddenly recognizing and enshrining a common-sense schema that everyone had pretty much always been using anyway. The scientific revolution and the success of modern science is more likely to be the result of more subtle advances in things like hypothesis generation and testing, which came about through the marriage of the philosophical and craft traditions in the renaissance period. People started applying the power of mathematics and logic to problems that had previously only been the interest of dirty-hands trial-and-error craftsmen. We see the new renaissance thinkers being hired by princes to accurately calculate the ballistic flight trajectories of projectiles so as to produce ballistic tables for army gunners. Which led to interest in gravity, accelerations, forces and such things, which in turn created the intellectual environment that produced people like Galileo.

    The thing is, that might be all that some scientific work is.

    Biologists have surveyed geographical areas of the Amazon basin in order to determine the overall biomass and the biodiversity of species of ants living in that area. I would call that scientific work, despite the fact that it doesn't seem to involve hypothesis testing. There are currently sky surveys underway such as the Sloan survey and the exoplanet surveys. There are automated solar telescopes observing the sun every day, feeding their observations into astrophysical databases. There's all the current work to sequence the genomes of many different species.

    Sure, much of that data will almost certainly be used in the future to generate hypotheses that might then be tested somehow. The point I'm making is simply that the hypothesis generation and testing hasn't happened yet. Nevertheless, the observations still count as scientific work, even though they don't easily fit into the stereotypical 'scientific method' schema. Even if future hypothesis generation and testing never happen, the current observational work is still scientifically informative and enlightening.

    In an earlier post I suggested that the H-D model doesn't provide us with a demarcation criterion that enables us to distinguish between what is and isn't science.

    We agree on that.

    I guess that my point is that if a proposed candidate for "the scientific method" doesn't help us distinguish between practices that are and aren't scientific, then it might not be up to the social and rhetorical tasks that many people seem to want to heap upon it.
  8. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Er, well, that is not what I would take out of it, actually. What I take from this is there is indeed a single "method", but it consists only of those 3 basic common features (observe, hypothesise, test). So, as a detailed procedure, able to tell you how to set about a research project, for example, it is not very helpful at all.

    But for distinguishing philosophical positions, or for pointing out to creationists or pseudoscientists why they cannot be taken seriously, it has value.
  9. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Very thoughtful contribution. Rutherford was famously dismissive of much science, saying there was physics and then all the rest was stamp-collecting. I think this was a kind of mathematical snobbery. It was pretty harsh to all the biological classifiers - and even more harsh, arguably to chemists, who certainly do have a large body of quantitative theory behind their discipline. However, I think maybe you are also unfair to the classifiers. The process of surveying species in the Amazon involves not just listing and recording species but, importantly, attempting to fit them into pre-existing schemes of taxonomy. This is actually hypothesis testing. Do they fit, if so where, if not do we need to modify our taxonomical scheme (amend the hypothesis)?

    I think I would contend that if you really think about any scientific activity, the urge to classify, or in other ways detect patterns that relate to predictions of theory in some way, is always present.
  10. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I don't recall ever being formally taught "the scientific method" when I was a biological sciences undergraduate. A number of other former natural sciences students have told me the same thing. What we were taught was no end of more narrowly specific scientific methods. That's what sessions in the laboratory were often devoted to. The overall idea that assertions about physical-world matters required objective physical-world evidence was always kind of implicit and assumed. The emphasis was on the various ways of acquiring and evaluating that evidence.

    My impression is that undergraduate programs in the so-called 'social sciences' (sociology, psychology, anthropology and so on) often do require classes (Brits might call them 'modules') in scientific method. I think those often consist of a vague account of the hypothesis testing idea, along with some basic statistics. It's interesting to me and perhaps significant that the subjects that do seem to require classes in scientific method are precisely the subjects whose scientific credentials might not be universally accepted and where rival and alternative non-scientific methodologies such as phenomenology or hermeutics exist.

    Science does seem to have been extraordinarily successful. It's transformed our planet and the lives of everyone on it. So philosophers of science are naturally going to want to inquire into what accounts for that success.

    That's what I was thinking about when I spoke about 'demarcation criteria'. What is it that distinguishes science from non-science? What is it that accounts for science's historically unprecedented success?

    People often trot out "the scientific method" and hypothesis-testing at that point, as if invoking the phrase and the idea explain everything. But I'm not convinced that they do.

    On one hand hypothesis testing is too broad. The Islamic fundamentalist verifying his hypothesis that a particular action is forbidden by God by consulting Quran and Hadith is testing a hypothesis, but what he's doing isn't science. (Actually some Muslims argue that it is.) Simple trial-and-error is hypothesis testing, but it isn't science. And on the other hand the hypothesis testing idea might be too narrow. Some indisputibly scientific work doesn't seem to me to exemplify the model. Genome sequencers aren't necessarily testing hypotheses, they are elucidating the structure of genomes.
  11. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Here's the thing. You're asserting there is no single 'scientific method', that there is more than one.

    My point, and Paddoboy's point is that, in the broadest possible sense, there is a singular scientific method that can be summed up in three or four words: Observe, Predict, Test.
    Make an observation.
    Derive an explanatory hypothesis.
    Infer a prediction from that explanatory hypothesis.
    Test that prediction by conducting an experiment.
    Review your hypothesis in the light of the results.

    What I pointed out earlier was that the links you have been posting to support your argument that this is wrong, actually support the argument put forward by paddoboy and myself, that there is, in the broadest possible sense, a single scientific method. The difference between what I have said and what your links discuss is in the first instance the level of detail - for example, it goes into some of the different ways an observation might be made, whether it's watching apples fall, reading literature, or whatever. The other difference is that the links you have provided also examine the interface between science and technology, and the interface between science and society, something that my broad description ignores.

    This leads us back to what I think may be the crux of the discussion. Your argument appears to be that the different ways the scientific method is applied result in different scientific methods, my point, and I believe paddoboys point is that all of the different methods used across all of the sciences have the same basic structure to them: Observe, Predict, Test.

    Maybe you need to take the blinkers off, go back, re-read paddoboy's posts on the first page, and see if you can reconcile what he's had to say with what you're saying, because I can assure you they are the same except for your ultimate conclusion.
  12. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Hogswash, this is an argumentum ad absurdum, you've taken a broad guideline and extrapolated it to a ridiculous conclusion. This would fall under pseudoscience, for one thing, there's no explanation as to why doing X is evil and wrong, and for another thing, the review step is missing. It uses a seemingly scientific process to come to a seemingly scientific conclusion that makes untestable predictions or predictions that have been tested and found to be wrong. And what when others review your hypothesis and find it to be wrong?

    Not to mention you seem to be assuming that the hypothesis remains static, and that you only need to go through the process once, contrary to what I have actually said. There's also the point that both here and elsewhere you're ignoring the point that it also neccessarily applies at a collective level as well as an individual one.

    It's the broadest possible description of the underlying principles. Please try and keep it in that context.

    Probably, as I pointed out, even infants conduct scientific investigations, whether they realize it or not. As I have already stated. 'The Scientific Method' is simply the name that we give to the schema within which we apply our curiosity to understand the world aroun

    I don't recall commenting on the 'scientific revolution'. Only on the scientific method.

    Right. It started with an observation regarding the accuracy of ballistae, trebuchet, and catapults, which led to further observations and the development and testing of that hypothesis through experimentation.

    And? Did I or did I not explicitly state that making observations is PART of the scientific method?

    All of which will provide observations which other scientists will be able to use to conduct an experiment to test a hypothesis. Get it yet? The fact that individual points of data within the collected data set might never get used is irrelevant. The dataset itself will be used. The SDSS, for example, has already been used to test a number of hypotheses, even though I doubt that there has been a paper that has used every point within the data set.

    The problem here is your trying to apply my broad over view to literaly and to linearly. None of the 'exceptions' you seem to be coming up with are actually exceptions and fall easily within the broad schema I posted.

    The distinguishing between what is and isn't science is a demarcation. The H-D model, as you call it, forms the basic scaffolding of the scientific method.

    But it does, especially once we take peer review into account, which I explicitly acknowledged that I had neglected, because for some reason, I always neglect it.
  13. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    That's kind of the point that I've been trying to make. Observe, Hypothesise, Test (which includes testing against the observations of others - IE peer review) is the broadest possible over view of the scientific method. The rest of it is the detail of how it is applied within specific branches of science.
  14. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    Trippy, I have read and reread the Posts, and nowhere in the OP is there anything that should merit Posting :
    Or :
    Or :
    Or :
    If any "reconciling" is to be done, it should be done by those that failed to see that what I Posted are not my words, but those of people who are actually involved in the Sciences and who use the various scientific methods.

    I will give you many of the methods are similar in how they are ultimately presented for any "Peer Review", but the methods used by a Biologist are quite different than those used by a Theoretical Physicist.
    How, for instance, could a Theoretical Physicist physically, in a hands on type of way, measure a ship moving close to the velocity of light to properly determine if the mass was being stretched or contracted?

    The point of the information contained in the links that I Posted are trying to point out that there are various Scientific Methods utilized by the various sciences - that is the "attention to detail" that some are seeming not to employ when reading and comprehending those Linked pages.

    Speaking of "attention to detail" - am I the only member that noticed that only 20 minutes lapsed between my Posting the OP and paddoboy's Posting of :
    What single scientific method - or method followed in everyday life - would account for reading the multiple pages of information, fully understanding that information and then fully considering a response - in only 20 minutes?

    When I apply the following steps to that physical example :
    The only hypothesis that leads to an explanatory result or conclusion that actually fits the observed example, is that a "method" may have been used - but that it was not one of the established scientific methods.
    Nor did the methods utilized in that 20 minute span of time, seem to be a very good example of :
    So, yeah, Trippy, maybe I should "take the blinkers off" and reconcile with a seemed "completely non-scientific Jumped to Conclusion".
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2014
  15. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    But you are the same person that has taunted me in many posts re my use of reputable sites for references instead of my own words!
    I have also tried to reconcile our differences in the past, only to have you throw them back in my face.
    You are not interested in reconciliation.

    Again, whether science or everyday life decisions, the scientific method is the foundation stone upon which we all interact.
    Examples of that have been given...variations may occur. But the scientific method stands as the basic guide.

    Are you fair dinkum??? C'mon Son, get over it!!
    And for the record, yes the scientific methodology does weed out the pseudo ratbags, conspiracy pushers and other quackery.

    I'm bloody certain that you should!
  16. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    Why cannot people see that this is all I am claiming.
    And to dmoe, No, I did not read the whole link, nor all your links, but the page I did read, in my opinion, supports fully my view of the scientific method.
  17. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    These are precisely the blinkers I was talking about.
    How about considering and addressing post 3 of this thread, made by Paddoboy, which you have so far seemingly ignored.
  18. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    Okay, paddoboy, let us apply one of the scientific methods to a couple of your ^^above quoted^^ claims.

    The first claim, I have mentioned, in the past, that instead of copying/pasting, that you should be able to express any science or theories that you claim to fully understand - in your own words.

    Now for the other two claims - would you please produce the evidence that you possess to back up those claims - especially the evidence that proves conclusively that I am "not interested in reconciliation".

    Again, paddoboy, you may use any of the scientific methods that you repeatedly copy/paste/Post to so.

    When you have done the ^^above requested^^, it would scientifically prove that you, paddoboy, are indeed "interested in reconciliation".

    So...I ask you the question that you have repeatedly asked of me :
    Okay, will you supply your evidence of proof to support your claims that :

    1.) - proves that you tried to reconcile our differences in the past, only to have me throw them back in your face.

    2.) - proves that I, dmoe, am not interested in reconciliation.

    I will wait for you to Post the evidence of proof to support your claims.
  19. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    Good luck on your wait.
    I am certainly not going to bore this forum with the evidence of what I have said, and in line with your silly little game.
    They are there in black and white.

    Have you ever heard the idiom, "Not being able to see the forest for the trees?"
    if someone can't see the forest for the trees, they are unable to understand what is important in a situation because they are giving too much attention to details.
    In all reality, besides your above "quality"your sanctimonious postings is so sickening.
    My style here will remain and I will stand by the judgement of the moderators and my peers.
    That style will be to continue to refute all quackery and those that support it.
    To the best of my ability and knowledge.
  20. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    Please above post was posted 11 minutes after dmoe's post. :roflmao:
  21. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Paddoboy, Dumbest man on earth.

    I don't give two shits about your personal histories with each other. That's not the reconciliation I was referring to. I was referring to the views expressed by the first three posts in this thread.

    DMOE: In this thread you ignored the first three posts by Paddoboy that were relevant and on topic, thrn chose to emgage him for what you interpreted as a personal slight amd got nasy over it. In my book that is dangerously close to trolling. I would rather see you ignore personal insults and engage in on topic discussion.

    Paddoboy: while I accept that occasionaly tempers fray, comversations get heated, and occasionly there is the need for a degree of thick skin, there's no need to get personal.
  22. leopold Valued Senior Member

    from the first link:
    "CORRECTION: "The Scientific Method" is often taught in science courses as a simple way to understand the basics of scientific testing. In fact, the Scientific Method represents how scientists usually write up the results of their studies (and how a few investigations are actually done), but it is a grossly oversimplified representation of how scientists generally build knowledge."

    you will notice that the above passage in no way says there are more that one scientific method.
    as a matter of fact it only mentions "scientific method" and that in regards to the overall simplicity of it.

    where in the above links does it say what these "alternate scientific methods" are?
  23. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Most was already covered except that no one pointed out (again) that it isn't a common misconception.

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