Is there a method?

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

  1. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    I think I've discovered the misunderstanding, although, I've alluded to it before.

    Yes, the scientific method applied by a theoretical physicist is the same as the Archeologist. What differs is the specifics of the methods used to gather information and test hypotheses.

    Consider the APHA Standards. It is, in a sense, one of my bibles. I don't use the standard methods contain within the book directly, however, understanding them gives me a degree of insight into what the numbers mean when they come in from the field. One reason I didn't want to get into lab-work, it was to... Cakey for me.

    The APHA Standards are a collection of analytical methods that have been rigourosly tested by the scientific methods, and they themselves are how the scientific method is applied in chemistry (or part of it anyway).
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  3. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Your comments made sense to me, so I followed your suggestion, and learned. (I love learning - so thanks.) To tempt others to do the same, here is a quote from the first google hit (Stanford encyclopedia / Epistemology):

    "... Henry drives through a rural area in which what appear to be barns are, with the exception of just one, mere barn facades. From the road Henry is driving on, these facades look exactly like real barns. Henry happens to be looking at the one and only real barn in the area and believes that there's a barn over there. Henry's belief is justified, according to TK, (traditional or common POV about knowledge) because Henry's visual experience justifies his belief. ... Yet Henry's belief is plausibly viewed as being true merely because of luck. Had Henry noticed one of the barn-facades instead, he would also have believed that there's a barn over there. There is, therefore, broad agreement among epistemologists that Henry's belief does not qualify as knowledge. ...
    Cases like that — known as Gettier-cases[5] — arise because neither the possession of evidence nor origination in reliable faculties is sufficient for ensuring that a belief is ... true ..."

    I will add a large set of "Gettier case" examples:
    Most believe the sky (on a clear day) is blue, but it is not. It only scatters the blue sunlight falling on it to your viewing eye much more than the red. Likewise the sun is a "white hot" star, not redish/orange most believe it to be. As the white light from the sun proceeds towards your eye, thur the atmosphere the blue (almost all the short wave lengths) are scatter out of the direct beam. Scattering goes as the inverse fourth power of the wave length.
    "Seeing is believing" but the belief is often false - ask any magician.

    In truth there is no color on any surface. Nothing has color. Color is a complex perceptual process and differs for different perceivers. The honey bee's eyes are sensitive well out into the near UV. All the "white flowers" to you have different colors to the bee. That is how it can fly directly to the one he has recently learned is currently flowing with nectar and avoid wasting time landing on the other "white to you" flower next to it.

    Another example: You may have seen a swarm of "identical" butterflies, chasing each other and not moving much to a new location. The males are chasing the females, which reflect UV light differently than do the males - have, to a male butterfly, a very beautiful color difference. Beauty, like color, "is in the eye of the beholder."
    To a dung beetle, full of eggs, the most beautiful thing in the world is a fresh, smelly pile of cow shit. Her ovipositor slips in so easily - its orgasmic beyond belief!

    The "scientific method" is bringing truth to the world - probably less than half of current humanity believes the sun goes around the earth - 2500 years ago 99.9999+ % believed a lie.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 24, 2014
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  5. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    You said science, not inventions. So I thought you meant scientific theory discovered by accident instead of via the scientific method (after all, this thread is about the scientific method). I got the impression you were advocating the crackpot fallacy.

    Please clarify.
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  7. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Observations are of course often a matter of luck, but the development of a new theory almost never is.
  8. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    In addition to my comments in post 83, I want to note that what is "truth" / "fact" is often determined by the choice of definitions.

    The BLS has a set of clever definitions for "unemployment" which produces the current 6.5% result by treating the part-time worker in a Big Mac job with less than a living wage the same as a 40 hour per week, well-paid, worker and the current large (>10,000/day) wave of "baby booners" retiring is also making their defined "unemployment" drop.

    Likewise, I'm a "crackpot" as I believe the moon mostly orbits the sun*, not the earth as our eyes tell us. Astronomers have a clever, complex set of definitions that make that POV "correct truth" despite the fact that if you plot the moon's and the Earth's annual trajectory on an 11 by 8.5 inch sheet of paper, with an ordinary pencil, there is only one, slightly-distorted, pencil-line ellipse produced. The moon-earth separation is such a small fraction of 1 AU that their accurately drawn paths are never separated by the pencil lead width! Yet, by "proper" (I.e. widely accepted scientific) choice of definitions, only the earth is orbiting the sun.

    The BLS would be proud - It is hard to make, by "well chosen definitions," the obviously not true, be the "truth" but it does preserve for the moon, the ancient idea that the moon at least still orbits the earth.

    * Also, if you calculate the gravitational force on the moon due to Earth and sun separately, you find that of the sun is significantly larger. - I.e. is giving the moon a nearly elliptical path about the sun, which would be essentially unchanged if the Earth did not exist! I.e. just a very very tiny "wobble" on the elliptical path would cease to exist.

    Ancient believes are hard to change, with facts when clever definitions can preserve them, so on this, I'm a crackpot (at least for 100 years more, but there is hope. Even astronomer's definitions do change to better reflect the facts. - Pluto is no longer a planet.).
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 24, 2014
  9. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    "new theories" are very rare. Modified and eliminated theories are common. In many fields where the scientific method can not be well applied, say psychology, there are normally several theories to chose from.

    I liked the old Viking theory explaining a partial eclipse of the moon. That has part of the moon illuminated by sunlight that has passed thru Earth's atmosphere which has lost part of the shorter wave lengths, so the moon looks more reddish then - obvious support for the idea it was being eaten by a great black wolf, spilling more moon blood with each bite as the moon grew more redidish as it ate.

    The moon was a great aid to Vikings - lighting their way. It needed help of the Vikings or they would be seriously injured. Thus it was a duty, few refused to beat their swords and their shields (or something hard) to make loud noise and scare the wolf away. This was indeed the result - the wolf was so scared that it vomited up what it had eaten and the moon was saved. - An early use of the scientific method: Make observation; develop a theory; use theory to predict some result, and then test the prediction. The existence of the great wolf, could not be seen as it was black, but was confirmed by the scientific method (although not called that then) so "Eclipse of the moon is caused by hungry great wolf" is a scientifically confirmed theory.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 24, 2014
  10. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    From Post #1:

    There pretty clearly isn't any single 'turn-the-crank' methodological algorithm that all scientists must follow and that all science must conform to. So I don't think that this remark of DMOE's should be particularly controversial.

    I think that the various methods employed by scientists need to be rationally justifiable in scientific terms. If there's any question about the effacacy of the methods, perhaps that needs to be tested and validated. But typically, it's going to be the results of employing the methods that need to be confirmed, especially if they are surprising or run counter to expectation.

    That sounds like a reasonable and uncontroversial thing to say. But saying it isn't without controversy.

    It seems to me that some people treat science almost as if it was a religion. And one of the central dogmas of that scientistic faith is that science possesses a unique method that sets it apart from all other human activities and provides science with unprecedented authority. During the European enlightenment, the success of Newton's physics thrilled intellectuals so much that many of them started thinking that if the wonderful methods of the new science could just be turned to all areas of social life, then all manner of obscurantism might be swept away and a new paradise could finally dawn.

    But the possibility exists that there might not be any single unique scientific method capable of explaining science's success and whose use sets science apart from everything else. The often-cited hypothesis-testing idea is essentially a description of common-sense, it was probably already being applied (albeit unconsciously) in the stone-age, and it's seemingly consistent with everything from trial-and-error to Islamic jurisprudence. It's way too vague and way too broad. As much as some people want that to be the answer, I don't think that it really is.

    What jump-started the natural sciences in 17'th century Europe likely wasn't the sudden application of a new or hitherto rarely used general scientific method. It was more likely the fortuitous application of effective mathematical techniques to a class of physical problems in which simple mathematical principles do seem to govern events, and hence where the kind of mathematical models being employed could be surprisingly accurate and predictive.
  11. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    The misunderstanding that you think you have discovered may very well have been fully understood by some from the get go - hence the content of links, and my statements in the OP :
    This brings up a dilemma. Should one encounter a misconception or a misunderstanding, should that misunderstanding/misconception be addressed or ignored?

    I believe any misunderstanding/misconception should be addressed, simply because any true scientific methods should be completely devoid of any ignorance at all.

    I will however, admit, that although I have employed numerous and varied scientific methods over the years, I am severely grateful that I have never had to employ some of the more common methods that are utilized quite often by Proctologists.

    I am indeed aware of the existence of those methods, but I would prefer to ignore them.

    However, when a hemorrhoid pops up or out, ignoring it is, at best, a temporary response, and eventually a variety of unpleasant methods may be demanded to achieve it's excision!
  12. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Now, see, here's where you validate our mistrust of you. That's not what the scientific method is, and you know it, which makes that trolling for an argument.

    Please answer clearly and concisely: what is the scientific method for?
  13. leopold Valued Senior Member

    actually the moon and earth "orbit" around a common center which orbits the sun.
    if i'm not mistaken this center is some miles beneath the earths surface.
  14. leopold Valued Senior Member

    you asked for some discoveries by accident, i provided them.
  15. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    No. That's a language convention issue, not an issue of truth/fact. All measurements are subject to arbitrary choices of units and choices of what to measure and in order to make sense of the measurement you have to understand the units and what is being measured. When the definition is clear and easily accessible, it is tough to argue that they are intentionally misleading you - that sounds like conspiracy theory. Is the "unemployment rate" a misleading statistic? Not to me - I know what it means. And I know it doesn't mislead you either, because you know what it means too! Is the Big Bang a misleading name? Yes, but it isn't on purpose and if you learn what the Big Bang was, you can discuss it without the conversation causing confusion.

    What you are saying is like saying that "miles" is a misleading unit because it makes distances appear shorter than when expressed in "kilometers".
    As worded, no one should ever have any confusion about what you mean or consider you a crackpot for saying that.
    No they don't - now you are talking like a crackpot.
    Yes, but that's not really a hair that needs splitting. Either way, that growth happens via the scientific method.
    Yes. The "soft sciences" are so called because the laws aren't laws of nature but laws of human behavior and they are therefore not absolute. For example, it is well established political theory that communism doesn't work because human nature produces un-communistic actions. But that isn't universally true, it is just mostly true. Communism can work well in small, homogenous groups, for example.
  16. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Agreed; and it wasn't. So it begs the question: why would he need to post a thread about it? Well, it appears that he posted the thread at least partly because he didn't realize that it wasn't controversial.
    It is controversial - wrong even - because it isn't accurate. The Scientific Method is generic and non-specific so there is no need to make it plural and there are so many variations that it wouldn't be possible to list them. What use is it to say if you use method A, method B, or method C if The Scientific Method describes all of them?
    That's a contradiction in terms.

    It is perplexing to me that this thread about something so basic, obvious and uncontroversial has gone on so long. A lot of DMOE's posts seem like he's poking at people (trolling for a fight) so that is probably part of it. The other part of it, of course, is that based on his history, most people don't trust him and based on history with others, don't trust threads like this. Typically, they are done in an effort to undermine The Scientific Method. As soon as you say "Scientific methods", you open up the possibility of making the other methods whatever you want them to be, including potentially making them unscientific. That's the risk/threat people are reacting against.
  17. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    For whatever reason, I didn't get what I wanted. Perhaps one of us misunderstood the other. Now that i've clarified, can I interpret this response to mean that you agree that scientific theory does not get discovered by chance?

    And second, it would appear to me that you consider inventions to be scientific discoveries. Is that what you believe?
  18. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    3,523 scientific methods are utilized when properly investigating and identifying any medical phenomena, prior to addressing or ignoring said medical phenomena?
    You know that to be completely false, so...would that make "that trolling for an argument"?

    The scientific methods are for (in Layman's Terms) extracting, defining and refining, identifying and establishing as True the Knowledge of the underlying fundamental Laws of the Natural world/Universe that we are a part of.

    Many of those methods are used in medicine to distinguish a difference between a benign or malignant tumor, for instance.

    A non-Layman's answer may be :

    The scientific methods are for "research in which a problem is identified, relevant data are gathered, a hypothesis is formulated from these data, and the hypothesis is empirically tested." - from : method

    Or, the scientific methods are "for winnowing the truth from lies and delusion." - from :

    Or, the scientific methods are for ensuring "that scientists make meaningful discoveries, founded upon logic and reason rather than emotion.The exact process varies between scientific disciplines, but they all follow the above principle of observe - predict - test - generalize." - from :

    R_W, have I answered, clearly and concisely, your question?
  19. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    I'm sure most logical thinking persons, realize that the scientific method has served, is serving, and always will serve, as the foundation for logical thinking, life in general, and science in particular.
    We, or at least some of us, have become so conditioned to its use as a part of everyday life, that now we are unable to see the forest for the trees.
  20. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    paddoboy, I must agree 100% with your ^^above quoted^^ first statement, Grok'd!

    Relative to your ^^above quoted^^ second statement, I must humbly opine that some will always be able to see the Forest and every individual Tree contained within that Forest.
  21. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    R_W, it is my understanding, from reading the Posts in this Thread, that leopold stated (Bold by me):
    You, R_W, then asked :
    leopold then replied (again, Bold by me):
    R_W, if you asked if any scientific theory has gotten discovered by chance or accident - then I missed that Post.

    IMHO, leopold clearly seemed to be stating that the that the accidental scientific discovery of the bipolar transistor led to the invention of the FET (Field Effect Transistor).

    I never took anything that leopold Posted to appear as, or in any way indicate, that he thinks that any scientific theories were discovered by chance or accident, nor that he believes, considered or considers inventions to be scientific discoveries.

    But, that is just my, dmoe's opinion, so...
  22. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    That has my 100% concurrence

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    Agreed again, especially the first sentence.
  23. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    I cannot understand how Posters that continue to Post in a Thread can then be be perplexed in any way that that same thread has gone on so long!

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