Since people are citing Post#23 as if it's especially authoritative, I'll address it again: Some prehuman hominid is having trouble getting bone marrow out of bones. (observation) He wonders if hitting a bone with a rock might split it open. (hypothesis) He hits the bone with the rock and it either works or doesn't. (test). Prescientific craft traditions are constructed out of that stuff. Textiles, copper and bronze metallurgy, building construction, animal and crop raising and ceramics all appeared in the neolithic period. Contemporary laypeople are doing it every day. They call it 'common sense'. Imagine an Islamic fundamentalist. He observes some behavior. He hypothesizes that it's forbidden by Islamic law. He tests that hypothesis by consulting Quran, Hadith and Islamic juridicial scholarship. My point is that this hypothesis-testing version of the 'scientific method' doesn't appear to be unique and specific to science at all. Practicing it certainly doesn't qualify one's practice as scientific. I most emphatically wouldn't want to call what the Islamic fundamentalist is doing 'science', but it probably does qualify as a common-sensical within its religious faith context. Is merely performing the first step equivalent to performing all three steps when we are trying to determine whether or not a particular activity is an example of doing science? Suppose that the expedition isn't seeking to discover new species. Suppose that it's intended to determine how many known species are found within a particular geographical area, and how many individuals of each species there are? I think that finding out the biodiversity and biomass of particular kinds of organisms in a geographical area is definitely an example of science, even though it doesn't appear to be an example of hypothesis testing. (I'm thinking of some of the work that Edward O. Wilson and company have done with ants in the Amazon basin.) But before anyone can start hypothesizing about how extrasolar planets formed and got to the sometimes unexpected places where they are found (hot Jupiters), they have to be discovered. That currently involves a number of survey projects, using several different techniques (doppler, transits) in order to generate a catalog of known extrasolar planets and hopefully some information about their characteristics (orbital parameters, mass). Again, I want to say that these observational surveys are entirely bonafide examples of science, even before people start hypothesizing about the sometimes surprising data that they produce. Before people can start hypothesizing in an informed way, as opposed to mere guessing, they need to have some idea what's out there. So what's wrong with the Islamic fundamentalist example up above? It isn't clear that all observations count as scientific observations. (Religious experience?) Certainly not all hypotheses are scientific. (Hypotheses about conformity to God's Law?) And clearly not all testing procedures are. (Consulting revelation?) It seems to me that there's a lot more going on there than merely observe, hypothesize, test. And there's common-sense trial-and-error. I'm not sure that we would want to say that simply generating wild guesses at random is a scientific procedure. There's obviously an element of creativity involved in science, but it's informed creativity that's being disciplined somehow. Of course the Islamic jurist can and will say the exact same thing. So it seems to matter a great deal what kind of information informs the speculations and what it is that's constraining the guessing. Russ and Paddoboy seem to think that there is. From their posts, I get the impression that they see the 'scientific method' as some kind of barrier between reason and truth on one hand, and bullshit on the other. Right. The problem is that the stereotypical 'scientific method' schema doesn't even address that kind of stuff. That's why I think that it's too simplistic. It's conceivable that it might be innate, another of our human instincts. I'm certainly not denying it. What I'm questioning is whether it's unique to and somehow definitive of science. I'm more inclined to think of it as common-sense. In a way that's what science is, a grand souped-up edition of common-sense, but one that's grown so technical and arcane that few non-scientists can even follow it any more. Yeah, I've watched small children do that too. I think that you are right that they are exercising their cognitive faculties when they do it. It demonstrates cause and effect. It illustrates that they themselves are agents whose actions can have effects in the world. It allows them to form expectations and then verify their occurrance. It gets mommy and daddy stirred up (which is always fun). And there's probably something aesthetically pleasing about watching your food splatter on the floor and make a big mess.