Facebook Page

Like Us on Facebook

G Plus Page

Circle us on Google Plus

Latest Events

No events

User Menu

Search

Get Updates

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Friday, 12 June 2009 22:33

What Is The Scientific Method?

Written by 
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Instead of accepting religious and superstitious explanations to the things we do not yet understand, Reasonists rely more on enquiry and the scientific method.

Non-scientists loosely use the word 'theory' in place of words like a 'hunch' or 'guess'. When people hear about 'The Theory Of Evolution', they say things like, "Well, it is just a theory".

In science, however, the word 'theory' is not an individual's hunch or guess that remains unproved or untested. Before something is recognised as a theory, it goes through a rigorous process. We need to understand the process by which scientists come to understand what they purport to know. This is referred to as 'The Scientific Method'.

William K. Tong of the Oakton Community College, in Illinois, provides us with a good definition of The Scientific Method:

"The scientific method attempts to explain the natural occurrences (phenomena) of the universe by using a logical, consistent, systematic method of investigation, information (data) collection, data analysis (hypothesis), testing (experiment), and refinement to arrive at a well-tested, well-documented, explanation that is well-supported by evidence, called a theory".

What we need to recognise is that scientific theories have been observed, tested and verified in many experiments, by many different, independent sources. To explain this process, let us use an example of how a theory is developed using the scientific method:

1) I make an observation: Every time the sun rises, it is always from the east.
2) I hypothesise: The sun must rise from the east.
3) I test this idea: I will go everywhere I can possibly go and verify that the sun is always rising from the east.
4) I publish it: "My research has indicated the sun always rises from the east, wherever it is observed."
5) Other people verify it: This research will then be corroborated by others, from all over the world to confirm that the sun indeed rises from the east.
6) We agree now that our theory has enough evidence. Out of say, 10,000, independent case studies, we are 100% sure the sun rises from the east. We now have a theory.
7) Maybe one day, the sun will begin rising from the west. We cannot know for sure. When it does, we will modify our theory.

As we can see, theories are far from the unproved speculations of a single scientist who just had one too many cups of coffee, late one night. Scientific method is not simply about asserting what you think is true. It may make assumptions but it does not require faith because it simply works with the evidence it has. It is a method that seeks for truth through testing ideas and conducting experiments to verify whether these ideas are true. Ideas are cross-referenced and open for widespread criticism, enquiry and debate. The scientific method requires evidence that is, understandable, relevant, reliable, observable and verifiable.

The most important aspect of a scientific theory is that it must be FALSIFIABLE. It must be clear how and when that theory is no longer valid. In our example above, the theory will remain to be true until someone makes an observation that the sun is rising from another direction. If something is not falsifiable, it is not a true scientific theory. It is a philosophy.

[This is an excerpt from the Tyranny Of God on the Scientific Method, p258]

Read 18487 times Last modified on Saturday, 06 August 2011 18:17

Media

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.