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Scientifc method, hypotheses and prediction testing

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harrylin
#1
Apr21-12, 08:18 AM
P: 3,181
In a parallel thread the scientific method became a subtopic, together with claims concerning "Intelligent Design"; a little elaboration may be useful.

A discussion of the "scientific method" can be found in Wikipedia (I think that the summary is quite OK); a clear description can also be found here: http://teacher.nsrl.rochester.edu/ph...AppendixE.html
In summary they write:
I. The scientific method has four steps

1. Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena.

2. Formulation of an hypothesis to explain the phenomena. In physics, the hypothesis often takes the form of a causal mechanism or a mathematical relation.

3. Use of the hypothesis to predict the existence of other phenomena, or to predict quantitatively the results of new observations.

4. Performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters and properly performed experiments.
I think that that is a rather good description of the scientific method, however, Dalespam disagreed with that description:
Quote Quote by DaleSpam View Post
As I showed, your[sic] approach declares undetectable unicorns, intelligent design, and all sorts of other theories as equally valid to SR and QED [..]
Quote Quote by harrylin View Post
You put words in my mouth with which I strongly disagree - please don't! Regretfully for religious people, comparing the predictive power of intelligent design vs. that of evolution theory hasn't been rewarding for intelligent design, especially in recent years. If you disagree, we should start a topic on that!
Quote Quote by DaleSpam View Post
[..] Intelligent design assumes that there is an intelligence which caused the biological life we see on earth. Since that is a causal mechanism it qualifies as a scientific assumption under your[sic] stated criterion: "Scientific assumptions should take the form of a causal mechanism or a mathematical relation".[..]
For me it's an amazing underestimation of the scientific method to think that it can be reduced to making assumptions; central to the scientific method is the testing of predictions.

In recent years especially DNA research of different species, including archeological ones, has delivered much support for evolutionary models and some of the findings are contrary to what one would expect based on the intelligent design hypothesis. The fact that defenders of that model can always change their predictions for ad hoc reasons doesn't make it compare well to evolutionary models.
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ZapperZ
#2
Apr21-12, 09:55 AM
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harrylin: out of curiosity, are you a practicing scientist? In other words, if I participate in a thread like this, to what extent do I need to explain things? Obviously, someone who actually works as a scientist not only would know about a "scientific method", but he/she also LIVES and PRACTICE it, and would know about it intimately, rather than just reading about it. It signifies the difference between a superficial knowledge of it versus an actual knowledge of it.

Also, this thread may be moved either to GD or Social Science forum, because topics in the physics forums must have actual physics content, i.e. it must be a physics discussion, rather than a discussion ABOUT physics.

Zz.
harrylin
#3
Apr21-12, 10:59 AM
P: 3,181
Quote Quote by ZapperZ View Post
harrylin: out of curiosity, are you a practicing scientist? In other words, if I participate in a thread like this, to what extent do I need to explain things? Obviously, someone who actually works as a scientist not only would know about a "scientific method", but he/she also LIVES and PRACTICE it, and would know about it intimately, rather than just reading about it. It signifies the difference between a superficial knowledge of it versus an actual knowledge of it.

Also, this thread may be moved either to GD or Social Science forum, because topics in the physics forums must have actual physics content, i.e. it must be a physics discussion, rather than a discussion ABOUT physics.

Zz.
Hi Zapper, I hesitated if the correct way of doing science belongs in science or philosophy; however this topic was brought up by others (principally dalespam but also russ_watters) in the relativity forum. As part of the discussion related to Newton I brought that part to classical physics, and now some of the discussion has become much more general about the scientific method, which doesn't belong in a thread on Newton.

About them I don't know but as for me, I do work in science and I have a number of peer reviewed publications, not only theoretical but also experimental; and I guess that it's the same for you.

PS: I never looked at "social sciences" which doesn't seem to be related to physics - and I wonder if any of those who started this topic in the physics forums ever do either!

DaleSpam
#4
Apr21-12, 11:19 AM
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Scientifc method, hypotheses and prediction testing

Quote Quote by harrylin View Post
I think that that is a rather good description of the scientific method, however, Dalespam disagreed with that description:
None of my comments were in response to the wikipedia description, only in response to the logical consequences your premise, stated in your own words, and repeatedly clarified. If you would like to revise your premise in the other thread then I would encourage you to do so. I will not respond further in this one.
harrylin
#5
Apr21-12, 11:45 AM
P: 3,181
Quote Quote by DaleSpam View Post
None of my comments were in response to the wikipedia description, only in response to the logical consequences your premise, stated in your own words, and repeatedly clarified. If you would like to revise your premise in the other thread then I would encourage you to do so. I will not respond further in this one.
Sorry, but I do think that you disagree with your paraphrase of nsrl. And while I think that it is of general interest, I do not discuss it under a wrong topic (according to ZapperZ it's even an inappropriate forum).


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