What is Scientific method: Definition and 44 Discussions

The scientific method is an empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science since at least the 17th century. It involves careful observation, applying rigorous skepticism about what is observed, given that cognitive assumptions can distort how one interprets the observation. It involves formulating hypotheses, via induction, based on such observations; experimental and measurement-based testing of deductions drawn from the hypotheses; and refinement (or elimination) of the hypotheses based on the experimental findings. These are principles of the scientific method, as distinguished from a definitive series of steps applicable to all scientific enterprises.Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, the underlying process is frequently the same from one field to another. The process in the scientific method involves making conjectures (hypotheses), deriving predictions from them as logical consequences, and then carrying out experiments or empirical observations based on those predictions. A hypothesis is a conjecture, based on knowledge obtained while seeking answers to the question. The hypothesis might be very specific, or it might be broad. Scientists then test hypotheses by conducting experiments or studies. A scientific hypothesis must be falsifiable, implying that it is possible to identify a possible outcome of an experiment or observation that conflicts with predictions deduced from the hypothesis; otherwise, the hypothesis cannot be meaningfully tested.The purpose of an experiment is to determine whether observations agree with or conflict with the predictions derived from a hypothesis. Experiments can take place anywhere from a garage to CERN's Large Hadron Collider. There are difficulties in a formulaic statement of method, however. Though the scientific method is often presented as a fixed sequence of steps, it represents rather a set of general principles. Not all steps take place in every scientific inquiry (nor to the same degree), and they are not always in the same order.

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  1. pjwetzel

    Exploring the Frontiers of Physics: An Amateur Scientist's Journey

    ... and I got an amazingly straightforward answer written by a PF mentor. I was so excited that I registered an account here and immediately wrote a post to discuss the mentor's information, to make sure I understood it correctly. But I also extrapolated the ideas into the area of 'personal...
  2. W

    A Does superdeterminism undermine the scientific method?

    Anton Zeilinger, wrote, " "We always implicitly assume the freedom of the experimentalist... This fundamental assumption is essential to doing science. If this were not true, then, I suggest, it would make no sense at all to ask nature questions in an experiment, since then nature could...
  3. onomatomanic

    [Philosophy of science] Bias inherent in the Scientific Method itself?

    A very "meta" idea crossed my mind today, and I'd like some feedback. Apologies in advance in case the half-formedness of said idea results in a meandering post. The specific connection I made was that the creation-versus-evolution "debate" could be characterized, at its most basic, as the...
  4. anorlunda

    Judge gets scientific method better than scientists

    https://reason.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/b49101a8-ad23-44dc-9500-ecec551c08b8.pdf This was unexpected. In a 55 page decision from the Superior Court of DC, the judge said the following. The scientist litigator, and his expert witnesses said: It seems to me that the judge gets it, and...
  5. P

    Methodology / Philosophy of Science

    Summary:: When experimenting to improve a theory, account for the fact that your experimental equipment is made using the very same theory which you are trying to improve. 1.) It would take many decades (~ 80 years?) to design and make equipment entirely using a proposed new theory which has...
  6. Ackbach

    MHB Brokenness of Scientific Method: Up to Half of Papers May Be Wrong

    Excellent read on the brokenness of the scientific method: there are many, many issues, ranging from conflicts of interest, data falsification, lack of proper incentives, abysmal lack of statistical knowledge, etc. As many as HALF of scientific papers published today might simply be wrong! In...
  7. Graeme M

    Question about the Scientific Method

    I have posted this here because I am not sure it is relevant in any of the main boards. I have a question about what science can and cannot observe. Maybe this is too philosophical but I am more interested in a specific empirical matter. As biological creatures, our entire experience of the...
  8. Z

    B Proving the effects of gravity by using the scientific method

    Its been awhile since I even thought about conducting a scientific experiment, and I do remember that you need a dependent variable.. the observation or effect such as the apple fell from the tree, and then the independent variable, such as gravity. But in order to test the hypothesis, you...
  9. R

    B Examples of discoveries without a hypothesis?

    The scientific method is HYPOTHESIS -> EXPERIMENT -> ANALYZE -> CONCLUSION. There are special cases where there is no HYPOTHESIS. Can you give some examples of things discovered without giving a HYPOTHESIS? That is, they do an experiment and they discover something new without a hypothesis...
  10. V

    B Can you prove anything using the Scientific Method?

    I am studying the scientific method and have come to the following conclusion. Since X -> Y does not imply X is true (or real), it is impossible for the scientific method (SM) to prove that anything is true. So like mathematics, the scientific method builds knowledge on axioms which cannot be...
  11. K

    A Are String Theory physicists violating the Scientific Method

    The Scientific Method says that if a theory disagrees with observations, it has been falsified (according to Karl Popper). String theory predicts that spacetime is 10-D, but it is observed to be 4-D. This is a wrong prediction by the theory. So string theory is falsified. String theorists then...
  12. S

    What drives a polymath's insatiable curiosity and love for scientific method?

    I am a total geek, that is to say I am totally and obsessively interested in absolutely everything that might submit to scientific method, and a few wild cards (penny shares?), that I keep an eye on. And always have been, for sixty years now. Not being an idiot two things excite me most, 1) a...
  13. Y

    Is the scientific method in physics substantially different?

    Hi, I have two degrees. A BA in physics and a master's in computer science. I've taken more than 30 hours in upper level biology courses and a decent number of hours in mid level chemistry. One thing that I can attest to is that all of the disciplines have a different feel to their respective...
  14. T

    A Scientific method to calculate the time limits of a task

    Is there a way to estimate the upper limit and lower limit of time for doing a work? Suppose we are learning a page of facts and want to estimate the upper and lower limit of time taken to do so. If we start estimating the time we will find that the pages are learned in some variable periods of...
  15. bapowell

    Insights Scientific Inference and How We Come to Know Stuff. Part 2 - Comments

    bapowell submitted a new PF Insights post Scientific Inference and How We Come to Know Stuff. II. Continue reading the Original PF Insights Post.
  16. S

    2 theories, same experimental predictions, can one fail but

    "2 theories, same experimental predictions, can one fail but not the other ?" (above was intented to be the title, got truncated) Let’s say we have 2 physical theories, call them A and B, that make the same experimentally verifieable predictions. But they are based on different postulates. And...
  17. Toxis

    Fact checking - Scientific method

    Hi, I have a somewhat strange request (hence did not knew which section to use for this post). I have no formal training in sciences (have a degree in philosophy, and no matter how much my peers disagreed with my opinion, that is not a science:), but I fell in love with science while studying...
  18. M

    How would you assess a scientific method?

    How would you assess a scientific method? Foe example: How can you assess the scientific method with respect to the nature of light? Thank you!
  19. C

    Any good books on empiricism and the scientific method?

    Do you know any good books which explain the scientific method and empiricism in detail? If so, please share.
  20. harrylin

    Scientific method versus belief systems

    This is a retake of a recent question that was perhaps misunderstood by the moderators. As a reminder: "As a rule of thumb, some topics pertaining to religion might be permissible if they are discussed in such a way so as to remain neutral on the truth of, or value judgments stemming from...
  21. N

    Dieting, Nutrition and the Scientific Method

    The Better Half is always researching the latest diet trends, theories, observations, etc... I check out the articles every now and then and it seems like the overlaying problem with all these studies is the removal of variables in a study. Is it possible to accurately measure/test nutrition...
  22. Drakkith

    The Scientific Method: Why is it Important?

    The Scientific Method. Why is it important? What makes it "the" method to use for investigating the universe?
  23. S

    Who Invented the Modern Scientific Method?

    Who is credited with coming up with the modern scientific method? I think it was either Galileo or Francis Bacon... Note, by modern scientific method I mean: Do experiment. come up with theory to explained observations. Test this theory repeatedly with different experiments. If theory...
  24. R

    Scientific Method Template for College Students - Complex 4-6 Step Process

    1. What is a good scientific method template for college students? I need something that is more complex than your general 4-6 step process. e. I've looked over the web and have not really found much.They are all very similarly simple.
  25. E

    Scientific Method and Spontaenous Generation (Microbiolog)

    Homework Statement Scientific Method - Set procedures / steps to investigating a thought / observation Spontaneous Generation - Living things came about by non-living things Homework Equations Define the importance of the scientific method with respect to the theory of spontaneous...
  26. 2

    Do you think a new method will eventually replace the Scientific Method?

    Here's a thought, often in history someone will find a detail that doesn't fit some theory, then will come up with a better theory which explains the evidence better than the old one (ex. Einstein did to Newton). Before Science, there were groups who said rationalism was best, and others who...
  27. S

    History Books / trustworthy websites about the history of the scientific method

    I'm doing a paper on how the scientific method in it's current form came to be. I've found a lot of interesting websites already, but not many that I would feel comfortable using as a source. Could anyone point me in the direction of some good books or trustworthy websites that give a good...
  28. H

    Criticising the scientific method

    Criticising the scientific method ! Hi all Quoting a part of prof. Michael Shermer's book: Why people believe weird things?, about some problems of scientific thinking, made me a bit confused. "Let us suppose that an ichthyologist is exploring the life of the ocean. He casts a net into the...
  29. C

    The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete

    Saw this interesting article and wondered what PF thought of it since its close to home. Personally I don't see the scienctific method being replaced anytime soon. http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/16-07/pb_theory/#/ Edit: Because of its predictive nature that is.
  30. G

    Scientific Method on Hypnosis

    I need help. =/ I don't know much about hypnosis and I wouldn't know how to apply it to the scientific method. Help?
  31. S

    Is the scientific method limiting the potential of physics?

    I heard somewhere that the goal of physics is to describe the most amount of phenomenon in the fewest terms. I really like that for some reason. Of course then there is the scientific method, which I am less fond of. I wonder, in this day and age, is the scientific method actually limiting...
  32. S

    Is the Scientific Method Inherently Flawed?

    ok in my philosophy course we just started studying science and my teacher is TELLING us that the scientific method is WRONG. I asked him how and he says that because it doesn't work leads to wrong answers etc. etc. he pointed out about how we didn't know about organisms that can live smaller...
  33. T

    What is the best scientific method to deep space travel

    i have a question for your minds to wonder about. i don't know the answer but i would love to hear your opinions or facts if you have any. now i am probably the hugest trekkie a person can be. i love star trek, it is one of the things that got me into science. anyways, what makes Star Trek...
  34. N

    BIO 161: Scientific Method Help - Determine Variables

    I need to find out if I am right? I am in BIO 161 and need help answering these questions. Sara and Michael tested electromagnets to see if the size of wire they used would make the magnets stronger. They selected 6 steel nails of the same size to make the magnets. Using 6 different sizes of...
  35. T

    Exploring the Scientific Method: God Hypothesis

    Scientific Method. 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...
  36. ZapperZ

    Moonbear's Scientific Method Journal Entry

    First of all, if you haven't read Moonbie's journal entry on this, YOU SHOULD! I have decided to start a thread on this because I have a few "opinions" and questions on it, and I didn't think it was appropriate to add them as comments. So Moonbie, I hope you don't mind... What does it...
  37. R

    Explaining the Scientific Method: Applicability to Working Scientists

    After reading about the scientific method here and there in this forum, I'm considerably confused. Would someone be so kind as to explain the scientific method. And, perhaps, comment on its applicability to the day-to-day activities of working scientists, Thank you in advance. Regards, Reilly...
  38. Loren Booda

    Is the scientific method both faith and knowledge based?

    Does the scientific method mark the coexistence between belief and actual science, and describe tenets that involve a religion of information? Its prediction of world events may apply equally to measuring the electron's mass, or consequently to the conviction in its own efficacy. The...
  39. G

    How does the concept of immutable natural laws fit into monotheistic religions?

    "Anytime you see a turtle up on top of a fence post, you know he had some help" -Alex Haley What would be the scientific approach to figuring out how the turtle got on top of the fence post? Thanks, Glenn
  40. A

    What´s new on Scientific Method research?

    Does anyone can point me the most recent works on science philosophy? What are the most recent researches on the scientific method and how it is defined today? Can someone please indicate me recent papers?
  41. N

    'Scientific method' in non-Western societies? (historical question)

    My impression is that the history of the development of what we today call science is fairly well researched, and several good books are available for the general reader. What about science, historically, in non-Western societies, especially where there was little subsequent input into the...
  42. S

    Where did the Scientific Method actually come from?

    Where did the "Scientific Method" actually come from? I don't mean historicly who thought of it. What I mean is what actually makes it valid? Observe Question Hypothesize Experiment Observe Above is one form of the "Scientific Method". What it basically states is that the best way...
  43. T

    Sentience, flaw in scientific method

    This is an abstract version of the idea of scientific method. You percieve (Detection, not understanding). }Experiment You understand patterns from your perceptions. } Theory Sentience: The ability to perceive. You can of course do experiments on your own brain and find it's...