Who invented "observation, hypothesis, experiment, conclusion"?

Stephen Tashi
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Who invented the description of the scientific method as "observation, hypothesis,experiment conclusion"?

I'm aware that there are criticisms of this description and alternate descriptions. My question only concerns who first described the scientific method word-for-word in those terms. Was it a scientist? A philosopher? An educator? Did the description originate in Europe? In the USA? In Boston MA ?

Since this description is widely taught as authoritative (at least when I was in school), we should know the identity of the authority.
 

Answers and Replies

BvU
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It wasn't 'invented'; it was formed gradually over a longer period. Google 'age of enlightenment' (note they show very ancient pictures) and delve into 'philosophy of science'.
 
fresh_42
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Who invented the description of the scientific method as "observation, hypothesis,experiment conclusion"?
I would start to search in ancient Greece and look up dialectic. It should be found in Plato's work (400 BC) in one way or another. At least it started there in my opinion.
 
Andy Resnick
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Who invented the description of the scientific method as "observation, hypothesis,experiment conclusion"?

I'm aware that there are criticisms of this description and alternate descriptions. My question only concerns who first described the scientific method word-for-word in those terms. Was it a scientist? A philosopher? An educator? Did the description originate in Europe? In the USA? In Boston MA ?

Since this description is widely taught as authoritative (at least when I was in school), we should know the identity of the authority.
Sir Francis Bacon is surely one of the people involved with formalizing the scientific method.
 
russ_watters
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Since this description is widely taught as authoritative (at least when I was in school), we should know the identity of the authority.
That is not the right way to look at scientific work/processes. Science doesn't have an Authority, and even individual theories don't have authorities except when first introduced. Once the scientific community accepts and begins expanding on the work, it belongs to the scientific community. Einstein could have been considered the authority on Relativity in the early 1900s, but hasn't been for at least 70 years.

Small "a" = unofficial authority.
Big "A" = official Authority.
 
gleem
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Thales may have started the evolution of the scientific method by being the first to eschew mythology in favor of hypotheses to explain what is happening in the universe. His students Anaximander and Anaximenes expanded his teaching to including observations to support their theories. The experimental extension to scientific investigation may have started with Ibn al-Haytham documented inhis "Book of Optics" about 1021 .
 
Stephen Tashi
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I'm aware the scientific method has a long history, but my question concerns a specific "catch phrase" used to describe it.

That is not the right way to look at scientific work/processes.
My question concerns the identity of the person who originated the description "observation, hypothesis, experiment, conclusion". Perhaps that person was not an authority on anything. However, secondary education in the USA took that catch phrase seriously and, in my day, it appeared in most texts. beginning with the course on "General Science".

Is the phrase widely used in the UK? Is it (in translation) taught in continental Europe?
 
russ_watters
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I'm aware the scientific method has a long history, but my question concerns a specific "catch phrase" used to describe it.

My question concerns the identity of the person who originated the description "observation, hypothesis, experiment, conclusion". Perhaps that person was not an authority on anything. However, secondary education in the USA took that catch phrase seriously and, in my day, it appeared in most texts. beginning with the course on "General Science".
My guess is some anonymous textbook writer from 75 years ago.

"Authority" or not, can you explain why you think this matters? I can probably only name a couple of the many dozens of textbook authors I've had for my schooling career. Most of the time, they don't matter.
 
Stephen Tashi
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russ_watters
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russ_watters
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No justification for my own curiousity comes to mind. Why do you ask?:-p
Because we get similar questions about once a year, usually with the end goal of complaining about it. So if that's what you're after, I was hoping to skip the irrelevant "who wrote it" discussion and get to the main point.
 
gleem
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Apparently the term first appeared in print between 1850 and 1855. Also interestingly the term scientist was coined in 1833 by and English philosopher and historian of science William Whewell.
 
Stephen Tashi
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The wiki article on the subject says Roger Bacon. And @Stephen Tashi, it does include 3/4 of that exact quote.
I don't see a quote from Roger Bacon in the current wikipedia article on "Scientific method". Is it in the main text? I see the description "Characterizations, Hypotheses,Predictions, Experiments" footnoted with references to sources dated 1987 and 2012.
 
Andy Resnick
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Stephen Tashi
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Apparently the term first appeared in print between 1850 and 1855.
The term "scientific method"?

Also interestingly the term scientist was coined in 1833 by and English philosopher and historian of science William Whewell.
That's a good idea. Unless the phrase "observation, hypothesis, experiment, conclusion" is a translation, it probably originated after the invention of the English terms "scientist" and "scientific method".
 
gleem
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fresh_42
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That's a good idea. Unless the phrase "observation, hypothesis, experiment, conclusion" is a translation, it probably originated after the invention of the English terms "scientist" and "scientific method".
It might well be an adaption of what has previously been Latin, possibly Greek. Bacon wrote in Latin! But as the catch phrase itself, it sounds more like the invention of a journalist rather than a terminology a philosopher would have coined.
 
russ_watters
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I don't see a quote from Roger Bacon in the current wikipedia article on "Scientific method". Is it in the main text? I see the description "Characterizations, Hypotheses,Predictions, Experiments" footnoted with references to sources dated 1987 and 2012.
Turns out there is a separate article for the history of the scientific method. It is an unsourced quote at the top of the Roger Bacon section:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_scientific_method
 
Andy Resnick
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Stephen Tashi
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How is the scientific method taught to elementary school students in the UK or continental Europe? Is there a simialr French or German phrase that pupils learn?
 
fresh_42
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How is the scientific method taught to elementary school students in the UK or continental Europe? Is there a simialr French or German phrase that pupils learn?
We do not emphasize scientific method or science the way it occurs on American websites. The term basically does not exist, at least not in common language. Science is the normal, so there is no need to go on a meta-level and name the normal, unless you study epistemology.

I have a hypothesis based on my own experiences why there is such a big difference between Europe and the US in this regard, but this will become political, even though based on personal observations.
 
Last edited:
symbolipoint
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Just a quick note:

Scientific Method? Run a blank!


Another quick note:
Run an experiment. Change just one thing. Observe. Explain what happened.
 
Vanadium 50
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To quote the great Tom Weller:

Science as we know it today owes a great debt to a man named Francis Bacon, or perhaps Roger Bacon, or both. It is a debt seldom acknowledged, as few scholars wish to risk public embarrassment by confusing the two. Snch concern is unnecessary, since the important facts are nearly identical.

Francis (or Roger) Bacon was born sometime between 1212 and 1561. Of both humble and noble birth, he rose quickly but slowly through the ranks of the Franciscan order...He died circa 1292-1626...


You get the idea.
 
symbolipoint
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To quote the great Tom Weller:

Science as we know it today owes a great debt to a man named Francis Bacon, or perhaps Roger Bacon, or both. It is a debt seldom acknowledged, as few scholars wish to risk public embarrassment by confusing the two. Snch concern is unnecessary, since the important facts are nearly identical.

Francis (or Roger) Bacon was born sometime between 1212 and 1561. Of both humble and noble birth, he rose quickly but slowly through the ranks of the Franciscan order...He died circa 1292-1626...


You get the idea.
Your precision is encouraging.
 

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