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uber luminal
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[*] posted on 1-3-2005 at 07:19
Scientific Method


What do you think about the scientific method?

I personaly feel its crap, but I wanted to know what others thought.
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[*] posted on 1-3-2005 at 08:30


You feel it is crap. Why? How about some more background before we all start getting in a discussion...
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[*] posted on 1-3-2005 at 10:29


The question was, what do you think about it.
I didn't want anyone arguing unless they put down some of their input as well.

the basis is, trying to inspire a point to non-science and science beginners, who believe in the riddled logic of the scientific method. The point that the SM isn't a law and doesn't have to be used. (and most often is not used)

In short, i think the scientific method is inconsistent or is often taught incorrectly. Can you believe that many schools still teach that your either using the Scientific method or your not doing science?
This is the same old logic that says hypothesis's become theories and theories become laws. (yes, this too is also still taught in k-12 and college level). I think its a huge mistake by educators, as its a turn off to students who then have the impression that science is done in a rigid way, by "them" or "they" or pro's in white lab coats, off in some lab, following the SM for years and years to finally discover something. Instead a group of methods should be taught. Methods that explore what really happens in science. ( you tell me...)
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[*] posted on 1-3-2005 at 10:55


I think your idea of the so called "scientific method" has been misguided by your teachers. The scientific method, at least to me, is nothing more than objective searching which, I think, is common sense. Its opposite would be to try anything (like mixing A and B), note the results and try something else regardless of the actual results collected.

Yes, to search randomly isn't science to me as well. Thus, I can believe that schools still teach that it's either scientific method or it isn’t science. In fact, I don't get that fuss about the method. Yes, it's rigid but well, one must objectively consider the results of his experiments, make a damn hypothesis and then go on. Furthermore, I do think that method should apply in all sphere of life as well.

Also, I don’t think that to clearly states this approach to scientific research in schools implies professional people with shiny lab coats who followed the method for years like some automated drone. You state that the method doesn’t have to be used and dare to add it isn’t used much anyway?! Who do you think pushes the limits of science, has built the pool of knowledge we draw upon and learned from? The random guys or people like Antoine L. Lavoisier, father of chemistry, meticulous follower of the scientific method? The science guys works with the scientific method, and that's ok with me.




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chemoleo
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[*] posted on 1-3-2005 at 19:07


This smells remarkably of some 'creationist' theories some have been using (about 0.15% of all life scientists)

Scientific deduction is crap?
Oh well, uber luminal, care to tell us what other deduction methods we ought to use? Everything that seems, in the slightest, to contradict, current theories is evidence of the lord, our Saviour? Or is the use of logic and deduction, the use of evidence to construct a theory upon, a fallacy in itself???

Seriously, what *logical* alternative do you have, other than that of deduction, evidence, and the approachment of facts towards a theory?

Care to tell me exactly what this thread is about, and what it is supposed to imply?

[Edited on 2-3-2005 by chemoleo]




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[*] posted on 1-3-2005 at 21:47


im not sure what your getting at chemoleo. The point of the thread is to get input on what you guys think about the scientific method.

I guess i should rephrase the SM being crap to, I think its inconsistant with how science really happens. But im not asking you to argue with me, I am asking for your input on it and why you may or may not agree with it.
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Chris The Great
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[*] posted on 1-3-2005 at 22:54


I think he is saying that the "scientific method" they teach in school is crap, as there are many other ways to make discoveries. For those of you (most of you I would think) who are unfamiliar with the method they often teach in school:

1- You make a hypothesis
2- You test it
3- You make a theory if the results are positive, or you go back to step one

The problem is that many discoveries are made accidently (penicillin, teflon etc) and so by this standard they are not in fact true scientific discoveries. It also means that if you are not rigorously following this step by step setup, you aren't doing science.

I think that's complete BS.

Synopsis has got the idea of how to go about science, though mixing A + B and then using the results (instead of ignoring them) is science, in my opinion.

Also, I don't think there is a "true" scientific method anyway, that all scientists follow. To be accepted usually means that observations are taken and can be reproduced. How you got there usually doesn't matter that much I don't think.
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[*] posted on 1-3-2005 at 23:09


Quote: "The problem is that many discoveries are made accidently (penicillin, teflon etc) and so by this standard they are not in fact true scientific discoveries. It also means that if you are not rigorously following this step by step setup, you aren't doing science. I think that's complete BS."

BS also means Bachelor of science..
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Hermes_Trismegistus
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[*] posted on 2-3-2005 at 09:36
uber-unwissend


I agree uber...No the scientific method is NOT a law, and doesn't have to be used....

It is a method (sic) and has been shown to be the most effective method available.

Before the scientific method, the socratic ruled the academic world.....

What a mess that was....

also...
Hypothesis do become theories, but not laws.

Natural laws are a summary of observed behavior.

Theories are models that attempt to explain that behaviour and to predict future behaviours under differing conditions.

The scientific method attempts to remove opinions from learning and replace them with facts.

It was one (if not THE) first system of belief that allowed for the statement ....I DON'T KNOW....and thus allowed for further knowledge to be gathered and tested.

It requires PROOF.

QUOTE"many discoveries are made accidently (penicillin, teflon etc) and so by this standard they are not in fact true scientific discoveries. It also means that if you are not rigorously following this step by step setup, you aren't doing science. ENDQUOTE christhegreat

Nonsense, the scientific methods insistence on niceties like documentation allows for "accidental" discoveries to be examined later on and repeated.

before the rigourous application of documentation and strict measurements, reproducibility required luck.

The scientific method is one of the Cardinal acheivements of mankind.

P.S. UBER-... Your statements seem to indicate a kind of general hostility towards "them" and "they".

Are you feeling a little inadequate.....worried that you won't be able to find a place in the legitimate scientifc world?

Is it past your nappy time?

Did you miss the smurfs this morning?

Who's a cranky little boy?
:D




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[*] posted on 2-3-2005 at 09:45


Most accidental discoveries came from the scientific method. Take the penicillin case. After an incredible series of events, Fleming, trying to clean a Petri dish, remarked that a culture of penicillium notatum was competing with one of staphylococcus aureus. Up to this point, there clearly is no science involved. But at this point Fleming made the hypothesis that the fungi produced a chemical responsible for his defense and only then, discovered penicillin. At some point you have to make a hypothesis in order to discover something.

Like you said, mixing A and B, collecting the results and considering them in further experiments is science. It’s scientific method because your starting hypothesis is something like “mixing A and B will result in something”. If it doesn’t then one make a new hypothesis; which could be “mixing A and B at higher temperature will result in something”. You cannot really do without the method.




Your theory is crazy, but it\'s not crazy enough to be true. - Niels Bohr
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[*] posted on 2-3-2005 at 13:05


where does something that you can't experiment fit? If the SM is based on the logic of hypothesizing, trying, observing and modification... then where does science without the trying fit?

What about the research that is stolen? Or the research that takes place just by toying? (removing the hypothesis part). We can probably agree that the analysis part is key, since it helps define what science is (the study of the natural world and phenomena of the natural world). granted you could say that similar SM takes places AFTER the initial discovery. So does that mean that the observation that took place wasn't science? And if it was science, it doesn't fit the SM model. Does that mean the SM only works part of the time? should it be taught as the primary method if it really isn't?

Hermes, I am a curious person. I have asked many people this same question and seen many different viewpoints. I have asked Scientists(I refer to scientists as primary investigators rather than anyone who practices science... since that would imply most of this board who has ever done any science is a scientist. scary thought eh?), Researchers, students my age both in science majors and not, students in HS, students in Middle School. Given that my university houses a federal DOE lab, and that I work at said lab, I have access to these researchers who I can readily annoy with my curriosity. The campus is also within a mile of a HS and half a mile from a middle school. Both are always willing to host older students that work in science. This of course is not the only place I look for answers... I do work with science teachers in MN and Illinois. I suppose I should reach further and further to other institutions and research facilities around the US and world. But I need to keep refining my purpose I suppose. Hah. you could almost say I am using the scientific method to do this research... except I dont dont do any experimentation. I dont try anything. Its based on observations and analysis. As for hypothesis? no... I really dont know what to expect.

I am a Materials Science Engineering major with a minor in 2nd ed Science Education. What spurred this whole thing, was some of what I have learned in the general Science methods class last year. There are tons and tons of inconsistencies between what really goes on in labs, and what 6-12 students are told what goes on in labs. How science works etc. There are so many things I could have picked to study, but I chose the definition of Science and the Scientific method because I thought it would get the most interest. (by striking peoples nerves I supposed).

Quote:
Are you feeling a little inadequate.....worried that you won't be able to find a place in the legitimate scientifc world?

No, I already have a place, thanks.
Quote:

Is it past your nappy time?
yes. I have had a fever for a day and a half. I cant sleep. it sucks.
Quote:

Did you miss the smurfs this morning?
yes. I did miss the smurfs. of course I have never had a TV so that might explain a few things...
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[*] posted on 3-3-2005 at 12:49


"where does something that you can't experiment fit?"
Outside of the realms of science.
Science does not really cover everything, it won't compose a symphony or produce abstract painting.
On the other hand, science can tell us a bit about what those things mean. A computer algorithm that generates random tones is less nice to listen to than one that generates sequences.
Given that observation, I can form a (late at night and rather trashy) hypothesis - people like patterns more than random variation.
I can, in principle, test that hypothesis.
I think that the scientific method really needs to start with some sort of empirical observation, it then generates some hypotheses (plural) to explain the observation. Then it rules out the ones that can't be tested (they may be right, but they are not science). Then it tests the remainder and throws out the ones that don't work.
The ones that never get shown to be wrong gradually become adopted as laws (or, if you prefer, those hypotheses that closely resemble the laws that exist in nature don't get falsified.)
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[*] posted on 3-3-2005 at 13:14


Tried to read the stuff earlier.
The only comment I can make is:

Be proud

mick
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uber luminal
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[*] posted on 3-3-2005 at 21:10


Quote:

"where does something that you can't experiment fit?"
Outside of the realms of science.

... and suddenly, all the Geologists, Anthropologists, Paleontologists, Meteorologists, Theoretical physicists, Seismologists, Astronomers, Archaeologists etc, were no longer in the realm of science. Sucks to the study the stars eh?

Maybe I should have asked what people think science means 1st...
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[*] posted on 4-3-2005 at 11:19
I'm not certain how all those professions could be considered excluded..


When they all use the scientific method in their research.

But I have noticed a peculiar, and erroneous trend in this thread to state "hypothesis" as the initial step in the scientific method.

This is perhaps where the misconception of "accidental" discoveries are.

The actual first step in science is OBSERVATION.

And thus until there are "accidental" observations, followed by systematic inquiry, there will be no "accidental discoveries".
-----------

This also indicates the validity of "screwing around" in a lab, making random actions is not unscientific, it is simply the attempt to induce some unexpected phenomenon. .......ie...a new observation!:D




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[*] posted on 4-3-2005 at 16:32
Observation isn't science


I believe science is the "attempt something and/or find out why" part. And that's where hypothesis, even the simplest, is needed.

Screwing around in the lab still is scientific within that definition because in that case the hypothesis is: A + B might do something unexpected. Take one of my personal "accidental discoveries". While unsuccessfully trying to dissolve aluminum hydroxide in water using Rochelle's salt (sodium potassium tartrate), I decided in despair to threw some NaOH pellets in the mix, hoping it would solve my problem. And it did! Later I realized that formation of the soluble complex was favored at higher pH for reasons I won't explain here. I think this was scientific because I had my hypothesis; that NaOH would help dissolve the aluminum salts. The observation actually came later in that case, thus, according to your point of view, this wasn’t really science? I like to think that observation isn’t the first part of science; often thinking and hypothesis are required before doing the actual observation.

To simply observe something isn’t science, even if your actual observation is the result of some incredible series of events and will have a high impact over the future of mankind. To think about where/how to find new observations, and to reason the latter, now we have science.

[Edited on 5-3-2005 by Synopsis]




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[*] posted on 5-3-2005 at 08:03


"... and suddenly, all the Geologists, Anthropologists, Paleontologists, Meteorologists, Theoretical physicists, Seismologists, Astronomers, Archaeologists etc, were no longer in the realm of science. Sucks to the study the stars eh? "

Err, No. That lot do experiments too.
I think there may be some need to clarify "experiment". I think it means to set up some set of conditions where you can make observations that may cause your theory to fail. For some sciences, all that you can do is make the observations, but you can do it at differnt times, in different places and with different equipment.
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