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Regarding the Scientific Method

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Regarding the Scientific Method
Hello Chris,

I am directing this to you because of our discussion regarding repetition and the Scientific method. It is an article from the University of Nevada COOPERATIVE EXTENSION that I found very informative and interesting. Instead of paraphrasing i, I am going to quote it for everyone to see, You can read it online here

The Scientific Method

Maria Ryan, Area Specialist Angela O’Callaghan PhD., Area Specialist

There are many scientific disciplines that address topics from medicine and astrophysics to agriculture and zoology. In each discipline, modern scientists use a process called the "Scientific Method" to advance their knowledge and understanding. This publication describes the method scientists use to conduct research and describe and explain nature, ultimately trying prove or disprove theories.

Scientists all over the world conduct research using the Scientific Method. The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension exists to provide unbiased, research-based information on topics important and relevant to society. The scientific research efforts, analyses, and subsequent information disseminated by Cooperative Extension is driven by careful review and synthesis of relevant scientific research. Cooperative Extension presents useful information based on the best science available, and today that science is based on knowledge obtained by application of the Scientific Method.

The Scientific Method – What it’s Not.
The Scientific Method is a process for explaining the world we see. It is: • Not a formula • Not Magic

The Scientific Method – What is it?

The Scientific Method is a process used to validate observations while minimizing observer bias. Its goal is for research to be conducted in a fair, unbiased and repeatable manner.

Long ago, people viewed the workings of nature and believed that the events and phenomena they observed were associated with the intrinsic nature of the beings or things being observed (Ackoff 1962, Wilson 1937). Today we view events and phenomena as having been caused, and science has evolved as a process to ask how and why things and events happen. Scientists seek to understand the relationships and intricacies between cause and effect in order to predict outcomes of future or similar events. To answer these questions and to help predict future happenings, scientists use the Scientific Method - a series of steps that lead to answers that accurately describe the things we observe, or at least improve our understanding of them.

The Scientific Method is not the only way, but is the best-known way to discover how and why the world works, without our knowledge being tainted by religious, political, or philosophical values. This method provides a means to formulate questions about general observations and devise theories of explanation. The approach lends itself to answering questions in fair and unbiased statements, as long as questions are posed correctly, in a hypothetical form that can be tested.


It is important to understand three important terms before describing the Scientific Method.

Hypothesis – This is a statement made by a researcher that is a working assumption to be tested and proven. It is something "considered true for the purpose of investigation" (Webster’s Dictionary 1995). An example might be “The earth is round.”

Theory – general principles drawn from facts that explain observations and can be used to predict new events. An example would be Newton’s theory of gravitation or Einstein’s theory of relativity. Each is based on falsifiable hypotheses of phenomenon we observe.

Falsifiable/ Null Hypothesis – to prove to be false (Webster’s Dictionary 1995). The hypothesis that is generated must be able to be tested, and either accepted or rejected. Scientists make hypotheses that they want to disprove in order that they may prove the working assumption describing the observed phenomena. This is done by declaring the statement or hypothesis as falsifiable. So, we would state the above hypothesis as “the earth is not round,” or “the earth is square” making it a working statement to be disproved.


The Scientific Method is not a formula, but rather a process with a number of sequential steps designed to create an explainable outcome that increases our knowledge base. This process is as follows:

STEP 1. Make an OBSERVATION - gather and assimilate information about an event, phenomenon, process, or an exception to a previous observation, etc.

STEP 2. Define the PROBLEM – ask questions about the observation that are relevant and testable. Define the null hypothesis to provide unbiased results.

STEP 3: Form the HYPOTHESIS – create an explanation, or educated guess, for the observation that is testable and falsifiable.

STEP 4: Conduct the EXPERIMENT – devise and perform an experiment to test the hypothesis.

STEP 5: Derive a THEORY – create a statement based in the outcome of the experiment that explains the observation(s) and predicts the likelihood of future observations.


Using the Scientific Method to answer questions about events or phenomena we observe can be repeated to fine-tune our theories. For example, if we conduct research using the Scientific Method and think we have answered a question, but different results occur the next time we make an observation, we may have to ask new questions and formulate new hypotheses that are tested by another experiment. Sometimes scientists must perform many experiments over many years or even decades using the Scientific Method to prove or disprove theories that are generated from one initial question. Numerous studies are often necessary to fully test the broad range of results that occur in order that scientists can formulate theories that truly account for the variation we see in our natural environment.

The Scientific Method – Is it worth all the effort?

Scientific knowledge can only advance when all scientists systematically use the same process to discover and disseminate new information. The advantage of all scientific research using the Scientific Method is that the experiments are repeatable by anyone, anywhere. When similar results occur in each experiment, these facts make the case for the theory stronger. If the same experiment is performed many times in many different locations, under a broad range of conditions, then the theory derived from these experiments is considered strong and widely applicable. If the questions are posed as testable hypotheses that rely on inductive reasoning and empiricism – that is, observations and data collection – then experiments can be devised to generate logical
theories that explain the things we see. If we understand why the observed results occur, then we can accurately apply concepts derived from the experiment to other situations.

What do we need to consider when using the Scientific Method?

The Scientific Method requires that we ask questions and perform experiments to prove or disprove questions in ways that will lead to unbiased answers. Experiments must be well designed to provide accurate and repeatable (precise) results. If we test hypotheses correctly, then we can prove the cause of a phenomenon and determine the likelihood (probability) of the events to happen again. This provides predictive power. The Scientific Method enables us to test a hypothesis and distinguish between the correlation of two or more things happening in association with each other and the actual cause of the phenomenon we observe.

Correlation of two variables cannot explain the cause and effect of their relationship. Scientists design experiments using a number of methods to ensure the results reveal the likelihood of the observation happening (probability). Controlled experiments are used to analyze these relationships and develop cause and effect relationships. Statistical analysis is used to determine whether differences between treatments can be attributed to the treatment applied, if they are artifacts of the experimental design, or of natural variation.

In summary, the Scientific Method produces answers to questions posed in the form of a working hypothesis that enables us to derive theories about what we observe in the world around us. Its power lies in its ability to be repeated, providing unbiased answers to questions to derive theories. This information is powerful and offers opportunity to predict future events and phenomena.

Note the last paragraph particularly, " Its power lies in its ability to be repeated, providing unbiased answers to questions to derive theories. This information is powerful and offers opportunity to predict future events and phenomena."

Yes, the scientific method does include the ability to repeat an experiment and obtain the same results.

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Re: [ASCombs2662] Regarding the Scientific Method In reply to

Allen, just keep in mind that the last time Chris and I ventured into falsifiability and scientific theory in this same forum, Sarah shut the topic down. Laugh

Just saying...

"The Ox is slow, but the Earth is patient."
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Re: [jeanne53] Regarding the Scientific Method In reply to
I'm not going to get into anything, Jeanne, but I usually shut things down for attitude rather than content. Just sayin....
Blessings ~ Sarah
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Re: [jeanne53] Regarding the Scientific Method In reply to
We will avoid any attitude problems so that it doesn't get shut down. OK? Angelic
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Re: [praizeop2] Regarding the Scientific Method In reply to
I plan to behave myself, Sarah. I just want us all to agree on a definition of the Scientific Method. If we can or cannot, it will affect other posts I have made and some that I plan to make. The point here is that any experiment in science must be repeatable and with the same outcome to be valid. I am waiting for Chris to reply since he denied that as true, It really hasn't changed since my high school days. It is the same method I was taught in high school and is valuable for scientific research.

Blessings to you,
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Re: [ASCombs2662] Regarding the Scientific Method In reply to
Hi Sarah.

I would ask you to review the previous topic started by Allen, entitled "Is Evolution Scientic?" Even my replies to Jim's way-off topic were not disrespectful while my replies to your belief in one man's notion that a person's Blood Type (A, AB, B, O) can change spontaneously were an attempt to explain via scientific medical articles why this man was mistaken and what you might have misunderstood about his claim.

You ended that topic with this:

<<When you use words that I have trouble understanding and you write in the same way some used to do to Dovegiven, I understand why he left and accept the fact that no one wants to read about things that they don’t understand, care about, or can participate in.>>


<<I think that we all need to understand that our minds are all individual and no two are alike. So to assume that we know what someone is thinking (even if the topic has been discussed repeatedly, is a huge mistake: one that I resent greatly. >>

Nobody in that topic was disrespectful in their replies. Falsifiability had been recently presented and we were discussion the Scientific Method and what the Theory of Evolution entailed, as well as what it did not. A couple of off-topic asides does not usually force the topic to close.

I fail to catch any "attitude" problem within that topic, but feel free to point any out.

"The Ox is slow, but the Earth is patient."
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Re: [ASCombs2662] Regarding the Scientific Method In reply to
Hi Allen.

Here is a brief and simplified description of the Scientific Method by David Pieffer from an site I referenced in your previous topic

<<The Scientific Method
Suppose that you observed some phenomena and formulated an idea to explain it. In English, you could describe this idea as a theory. In science, this idea would be called a hypothesis. If you wanted to call it a scientific theory you would need to repeatedly develop predictions, gather data to test these predictions, and refine your hypothesis based on this data. After many iterations, you would submit your hypothesis to the scientific community. If any scientist could disprove your idea, it would be rejected and remain a hypothesis. If no scientist could disprove your idea, it would be accepted and become a scientific theory. This process is known as the scientific method, and has been simplified for the sake of brevity.>>

And from Chris:

<<3. The scientific method is a method of inquiry, commonly based on empirical or measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. It is not entirely restricted to 'repeatable observations' of the kind that we do in high school science classes. >>

Now...for a scientific hypothesis to become Theory...

<<According to Wikipedia, “a scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method and repeatedly tested and confirmed, preferably using a written, predefined, protocol of observations and experiments.” The article continues stating that “scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge.”>>

And this conclusion:

<<The scientific method allows us to formulate ideas and back them with evidence. They are then shared with a community of other scientists that rigorously try to disprove them. If no one can disprove a hypothesis, it becomes the current working theory. If someone eventually does, the theory is changed or replaced. This process continues and results in better and better ideas being formulated over time. Although the scientific method is not guaranteed to give us the absolutely correct answer, it does help us get closer to that answer. It helps us improve our existing model of the universe and learn from our mistakes.>>

Now... the Theory of Evolution does NOT include any sort of Abiogenesis suggestions; that is, there is no part of it that states that scientists have concluded how life started and although there are hypotheses, nobody is ready to get behind any an push them, mostly because there is no surefire way to test, study and repeat any ideas that have been put forth, yet.

It takes a long, long time to alter Theories for a variety of reasons, but unless a new theory (with a small T) smacks many scientist upside their collective head, they tend to cling to what they have promoted and around which they have probably proposed side Theories and to which they have invested lives and funding.

I don't think we disagree on definition, but we do disagree on what Evolution is. As I wrote in the previous topic and separated by asterisks:
You write:

<< Evolutionists admit that evolution is unobservable. >>

Evolutionists admit no such thing.

From this site:

<<Even though evolution is taking place all around us, for many species the process operates so slowly that it is not observable except over thousands or hundreds of thousands of years -- much too long to witness in a human lifetime. There are cases in quickly reproducing life forms like bacteria and fruit flies, however, where evolution can be seen happening in a matter of weeks for the bacteria and many months for the flies.>>


<<All of us can and do experience the indirect effects of evolution nearly every day, however. One of the more important evolutionary concerns facing humans today is the emergence of antibiotic-resistant microbes. A battle against bacteria that we have been winning with medicine for the last 50 years or so is now an even race, according to some scientists -- because of the rapid rate of bacterial evolution. Similarly, the use of pesticides in agriculture has driven the evolution of resistant insects that require more or harsher chemicals to be killed. Scientists studying Galapagos finches have seen evolutionary changes in beak size and shape in just a few years. Major evolutionary transformations take much, much longer. >>

Evolutionists do, in fact, study repeatable observations. So do high school science classes.


So Allen, do we agree on what is Scientific Method and Theory and what Evolution is or do we not? As you said that is imperative to further discussion.

"The Ox is slow, but the Earth is patient."