Is there a method?

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

  1. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    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.
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  3. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    I'm sure I have inferred that the scientific method is common sense, and not just applicable to science.
    Again, it is the foundation, the basis upon which logical reasoning develops. That in itself will weed out the nutters and Co.
    And as I have also mentioned, I see serendipity as sometimes, being a part of that process.
    Nothing wrong with a good old fashion, logical guess!
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  5. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    Wouldn't any "guess" based on or rooted in "logic" be what most people would consider the definition of a hypothesis?
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  7. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Yes, I'm aware of that. I've had the opportunity to explore it fully, which is why I'm perfectly comfortable saying it supports, rather than contradicts my position.

    So then you understand that the different processes that appear when you mouse over the 'testing ideas' section are just specific ways that an idea might be tested within science.

    See, this is the kind of thing that is likely to land you in trouble. It smacks of intellectual dishonesty, why, because it's a blatant misrepresentation of what I have said, it's a straw man hypothesis, and as such I will be wasting no further time on it.

    I didn't claim that it was linear, in fact i've acknowledged more than once (mostly implicitly) that it's not neccessarily going to be linear, or even the full process followed through by one person on one topic, only that when push comes to shove, all science boils down the same basic process.

    Now you're insulting me.

    Again with the strawman/dishonest tactics.

    I haven't claimed that it is linear, I haven't claimed that on any given topic one person is neccessarily going to see the whole process through, the only thing that I have said is that when you examine it from the broadest possible context, there is only one method.

    Let's not forget this:
    I'm saying the same thing I have been saying since the beginning of my participation in this discussion - there is only one scientific method, however, the specifics of how it is applied vary.
  8. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    No logical argument against that definition exists......
    Just to add that the same methodology extends well beyond the science disciplines into every day life and interactions.
  9. leopold Valued Senior Member

    an hypothesis is an educated guess.
    i can give an example:
    there are certain instances where airplane pilots cannot rely on logic, they must rely on their "education", what they have read or heard from their instructors.
  10. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    And I guess I'll reply to your response, again.

    First off, for the sake of reference:
    noun \hī-ˈpä-thə-səs\
    a tentative assumption made in order to draw out and test its logical or empirical consequences
    merriam-webster online

    Line breaks: hy¦poth|esis
    Pronunciation: /hʌɪˈpɒθɪsɪs/
    a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation:
    Oxford Dictionaries

    In a broad sense, yes. Tool use - technology - is an application of science to solve practical problems.

    And? A lot of science goes into art and craft, and animal husbandry is a science that we still practice today. Selective breeding and hybridization are both examples of applications of science and the scientific method regardless of whether or not you understand genetics.

    It's still a commodity.

    Last time you raised this example, I pointed out that it was an argumentum ad absurdum.

    Even if only on the grounds that his process is pseudoscientific, and his results are (by definition of being an extremist) unlikely to pass peer-review of the majority of his islamist peers. Maybe if religionists followed the hypothesis review a little more rigourosly and accepted only those hypotheses that have a consensus, religion wouldn't cause the problems that we see today.

    Not a claim made by science or scientists. The difference being how scientists apply the process (or one of them anyway).

    Agreed - which is why we have terms like pseudoscience and quackery.

    It presents the hypothesis that others will observe the same, or similar results when they perform the same observation, so in a sense, maybe.

    As I said, observation is the first step of the scientific process.
    The act of making an observation and recording it implies the hypothesis that others will see the same or similar if they travel to the same area and examine it.
    The act of not declaring any species as being new implies the hypothesis that none of the species are new, which can be tested, and there are plenty of examples of new species being misidentified and mistaken for known species.
    The act of declaring a species new implies the hypothesis that it has never been identified or cataloged before.
    Wilson's area of investigation is around the role of epigenetics and evolution in the behaviour of social insects. Hypotheses here including that evolution and epigenetics had a role at all.

    Actually, that wa smy mistake, I didn't mean the Nice model - the nice model covers part of the evolution of the solar system, I was referring to our hypotheses of solar system formation.

    My point was that we have (or had) a hypothesis of how our solar system formed. It represents a de-facto model of how all solar systems form. Every observation we make of star forming regions is a test of that hypothesis, likewise, every observation we make of T-Tauri stars is a test of that hypothesis, and finally, every observation we make of extrasolar planetary systems is a test of that hypothesis. The hypothesis wasn't developed to explain them, however, a robust model of planetary formation should be able to, if it can not, it ought to be reviewed in light of the new observations.

    And through the iterative process of observation, hypothesizing, and testing we weed out which observations are based in reality, and which ones are based in delusion.

    Well, yes and no. I could develop a hypothesis that light bulbs suck dark rather than emitting light, and that light is simply an absence of dark, I could even present observations to support that hypothesis. I might even be able to elevate it to the vaunted heights of being an alternative theory, but at some point it is going to make a prediction that differs from the opposing hypothesis (the existence of photons springs to mind) and the hypothesis will break.

    History is littered with broken alternative theories that were found to be wrong by the collective iterative application of the scientific method.

    In some regards it is, but it requires an understanding of the appropriate background knowledge, or at least, the willingness to do the neccessary research for it to be so.

    On the one hand, it can be if you have the background knowledge on the subject matter in the first place. If you have the background knowledge of the subject matter, and someone presents to you a hypothesis, then using the scientific method as described, you might be able to judge it as being pseudoscientific or wrong because you know of observations that have already been made that contradict the predictions of the hypothesis as it is presented to you.

    On the other hand, I have gone to great lengths at every step of the way to make it clear that I am speaking in the broadest possible terms here.

    ON the one hand, to be pedantic, I wasn't addressing what constitutes science, but rather, what constitutes the scientific method. A subtle, but important difference.

    The scientific method is the methdological application of human curiosity.

    Science is what we get when we apply our curisoity in a methodological fashion as part of a group collabaration to understand and explain the world around us.

    They're also learning about gravity, which is important for things like standing, walking, and risk assessment.
  11. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    @ Trippy

    I was under the impression that by your Posting of the "Interactive Flowchart" you were refuting my Statement in the OP :
    As to your statement :
    Well, I do not believe that I was in any way being "intellectually dishonest", nor "blatantly misrepresenting what you said", nor stating any type of "straw man hypothesis".
    Since you have stated , though, that you "will be wasting no further time on it". It would seem that it is of little use for me to state that I do not concur.

    I clearly stated why you chose not to include it, or how it seemed that you comprehended it - was, and still is, not for me to assume nor guess.

    Trippy, no insult was intended or implied. I am sorry if you perceived anything in my Post as an insult.

    And, as an aside, I will not take any of that being "intellectually dishonest", nor "blatantly misrepresenting what you said", nor stating any type of "straw man hypothesis" stuff as an insult, though in all fairness, it could or would be considered much more insulting that anything that I said.

    Now as for the "Let's not forget this:" part : from : (Bold by me)
    In the ^^above quoted^^ it clearly says "in contrast to"..."the simplified scientific method" which would it seem infer that was in someway trying to distinguish "the simplified scientific method" from some other "scientific method", or possibly even "The real process of science".

    But, hey does my interpretation of any written documents, or my views, or my considered opinion, mean anything now that, it seems to me, I have been judged guilty of "intellectual dishonesty" and using "straw man tactics"? :
  12. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

  13. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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

    So...if I use "logic", that I learned from my education, or even learned just from living my life, to formulate a "guess", am I then unable to formulate a "hypothesis" from that, as paddoboy referred to it : (Bold by me)

    If a hypothesis can be formulated from a "logical deduction", can't a hypothesis also be formulated from a from a "logical guess"?

    Realistically, if "logic" was the only method used, or even the primary way of thinking about or understanding and considering the issue about which the hypothesis was formulated - is there a major difference between whether it is called a "logical deduction" or a "logical guess"?
  15. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    I was illustrating how it fits in with, on the one hand, a single scientific method, and on the other hand, the scientific method as I stated it.

    Fine then.
    Prove it.
    Present evidence to support your case.
    Quote me ever having said that:
    1. The scientific process is linear.
    2. The scientific process is dogmatic.
    3. The scientific process is written in stone.

    You can't, because I haven't said those things, even though that is the position you attributed to me. You then proceeded to argue against the position you attributed to me, rather than the position I have actually taken, and that, my friend, is the definition of a strawman hypothesis.

    And we're back to this, again.

    Has it, at any point in this conversation, occured to you that they could be referring to a representation of the scientific method other than the one I have put forward here?

    Perhaps they're referring to more linear descriptions such as this one:

    1. Define a question
    2. Gather information and resources (observe)
    3. Form an explanatory hypothesis
    4. Test the hypothesis by performing an experiment and collecting data in a reproducible manner
    5. Analyze the data
    6. Interpret the data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis
    7. Publish results
    8. Retest (frequently done by other scientists)

    Which is not the same as what I've said, although does fall under the broad umbrella I described as well as what is on the berkley page.

    Or this one:

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    Which, as I understand it is how it gets taught in public schools

    Both of these are simplified, linear versions of the scientific method as I have described it and as the Berkley page. These are not accurate representations of the scientific method as I have described it.


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    Is consistent with what I have said, but is inconsistent with what the previous two linear descriptions have described.

    Do you understand now? Where your Berkley source talks about "simplified linear processes" they're referring to the simplified linearized process that's taught in highschool, not the broad universal methodology outlined by myself, paddoboy, and others.

    As it happens, I agree with your Berkley source, this:

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    While useful as a gradschool introduction to the scientific method is simplified and linearized compared to how science is actually done, and does indeed more strongly resemble how I would right a report about my work rather than how I would neccessarily go about it.

    And, as a final point, the Berkley page still only presents ONE scientific method, but illustrates the multitude of ways it can be applied - which is, you know, what I've been saying right from the start of the thread.
  16. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    The scientific method, the application of commonsense and logic, leads us on a path into the discovery of reality, via laboratory-controlled and everyday experiments to weed out the true nature of the Universe/space/time from pseudo quackery, and other lame-brained concepts.
  17. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    The scientific method, as the foundation stone of science and beyond, is backed and supported 100% in the above link....

    * Scientific testing is at the heart of the process.
    The process of science involves many layers of complexity, but the key points of that process are straightforward:
    There are many routes into the process — from serendipity (e.g., being hit on the head by the proverbial apple), to concern over a practical problem (e.g., finding a new treatment for diabetes), to a technological development (e.g., the launch of a more advanced telescope) — and scientists often begin an investigation by plain old poking around: tinkering, brainstorming, trying to make some new observations, chatting with colleagues about an idea, or doing some reading.

    * The scientific community helps ensure science's accuracy.

    * The process of science is intertwined with society.

    The scientific methodology in all its glory:

    Again, this appears to be a storm in a teacup.
    The links agree in fact with the scientific method, despite their claims to the contrary.
    This appears to be a case of a controversial stand, just for the sake of being controversial. :shrug:
  18. Undefined Banned Banned

    I would say that any method/procedure/approach that minimizes personal bias and subjective interpretations is 'scientific'....assuming the subject matter/observations are amenable to such objective/unbiased treatments. Pure 'philosophy' and 'religionism' can build on and extend 'scientific' results, but they cannot produce them in the first instance, but only compare/contrast to them for whatever personal/logical treatment 'beyond science applicability/reasons are being engaged in by pure philosophy logicians and self-referencing religionists.

    The scientific method exists as soon as and wherever/whenever one or more intellects employ objective means and observations/interpretations at any stage or situation under study.

    Sorry, that's all I had time to write; ran out of time. Cheers!

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  19. leopold Valued Senior Member

    my post was to show that an hypothesis does not rely solely on logic, it takes into account the accumulated knowledge of the observer.
    my pilot example shows this to be a fact.
  20. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    As i stated in a Previous Post :
    Trippy, I apologize again for my mis-perception of the reasoning behind your Posting the "flowchart".

    Again, Trippy, I was under the impression that by your Posting of the "Interactive Flowchart" you were refuting my Statement in the OP, when I asked you :
    Again, you seem to have shown that my previous impression or perception of the intent of your Post was a mis-perception on my part.
    So, again, Trippy I apologize.

    The following is the rest of my Post after the "how an "Interactive Flowchart" proves conclusively" question quoted ^^above^^. :
    Trippy, the ^^above quoted^^ to me, at least, is not proceeding "to argue against" any position attributed to anyone!

    Trippy, the rest of that my Post was pointing out the omitted parts of the page linked in your Post, and how I did not believe that it was a full and accurate representation of the content at that page :

    To be completely honest, I was under the impression that the page was referring to the "simplified scientific method" and that that simplified method was the one described in your own Post #23, which described the method as (a very brief synopsis- i see no need to quote the whole Post - since anyone can simply click on it!) :
    I hope that was not to brief.

    I can see no reason why anyone who completely reads it would fail to agree with it.

    And,yes, Trippy, the page does indeed present only "The real process of science". But it does prominently point out (again, Bold by me) :
    I figured that they had their reason or reasons for only mentioning "the simplified scientific method" instead of including what evidentally considered a : from :
    ...and on the flowchart Page :
    Trippy, I have tried my darnedest to honestly answer all of your points, questions and assertions to the best of my ability.

    I have apologized, and again I sincerely apologize for any mis-perception on my part that appeared insulting or derogatory or in any way offended you.

    I will even apologize for anything that I actually Posted, that caused you to mis-interpret, or mis-perceive, or mis-construe, or even simply mis-read because of any difference in my writing style. I have spent all of my adult life in, shall we call them "Jobs(?)"
    where I was either expected to, or commanded to be very precise, very in depth and very complete in my "Job".

    So, this being my very first foray into "Posting on social or science web-sites", my "virtual social skills" and "virtual writing/composing skills" are necessarily the same as everyone else's.

    I profusely apologize for those "personal foibles" also.

    Way too long a Post!

    If I have missed anything, i am pretty sure that it will be pointed out to me.

    I am sorry to have taken up so much of your (and all the other Members) time and Posting space.
  21. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    Do you suppose that this Thread would have appeared "to be a storm in a teacup" if everyone had read all of the Links, Prior to Posting any responses?

    Also, I do not believe that would make "a controversial stand, just for the sake of being controversial".
  22. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    My tolerance is waning rapidly.

    Here is the scientific method as I originally stated it.
    I pointed this out to you:
    Which you have accepted:
    I went as far as restating it thusly:
    And so we come back to this point:
    They present a broad overview as one flow chart, I can even demonstrate how their broad overview is compatable with my own:
    Same flow-chart annotated to more or less illustrate how the model I presented ties in to this model:

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    Their more detailed version:

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    Simply illustrated the different ways the different parts can be achieved.
    For example, ideas can be tested by gathering data and interpreting data, and that comes down to the comparison between the results predicted by your hypothesis and the actualy results or observations (resulting from your test), the data will, invariably either confirm the hypothesis, refute the hypothesis, or suggest a revision.

    ALL of which I have specifically and explicitly said to you before eg:
    Even though here:
    Am I able to give examples of the kind of simplified, linearized method that I believe Berkley may be referring to.
    So, inspite of the fact that:
    1. I can succinctly state in my own words what I believe the scientific method to be.
    2. I can illustrate how my broad definition fits in with Berkley's broad definition.
    3. You have explicitly agreed that what I have had to say is the same as what the Berkley link says.
    4. The details I have stated are the same details that the Berkley link covers (I'm not claiming to have covered all the details here).
    5. The Berkley link is in complete agreement with me on those details.
    6. The berkley link is in agreement with me on the iterative nature of the process.
    7. The Berkley link is in agreement with me on the non-linearity of the process.
    8. I am in agreement with the Berkley link (and have explicitly said so) on the collective nature of the process.
    9. I can give examples of simplified, linearized, cook-book interpretations of the scientific method, thus demonstrating that they exist and that my interpretation is not among them.

    You still seem to think that...

    Actually, you know what, just at the moment, I'm not quite sure what you think at the moment. On the one hand, you seem to agree that the Berkley site matches up with what I have to say (and consequently what others have to say) about the nature of the single scientific method. On the other hand, you still seem be implying that you believe that there is more than one scientific method, even though you have you to describe or provide evidence for anything that's different to what Paddoboy and myself have said...
  23. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Didn't read completely is not the same as didn't read at all. Didn't read completely doesn't imply anything more than he didn't read all 21 pages of the 'how science works' section.

    Have you read all 21 pages?

    And yet somehow you still don't get it do you?

    It's not the Berkley link that's in dispute here, it's your interpretation/representation of the Berkley link that is being disputed.

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