Scientific Method


In the age of COVID-19, scientists have been much in the news. Let's think for a minute or two about how they do what they do.

I believe in the scientific method. It is the nearest thing I have to a religious belief. But the scientific method is not really a faith because there are countless examples of its success. Faith requires the capacity to believe in something for which there is no evidence.

What is the scientific method? It's quite simple really. You gather facts, also known as observations, and then formulate a hypothesis or theory to explain the facts. Once you have a theory, you use it to make predictions about the world. You make further observations, to find out whether the predictions were correct. If they were correct, the theory gains strength. If they were not correct, you modify the theory to accommodate the new observations, and then repeat the cycle. You keep repeating the cycle until the theory is able to predict reality with accuracy and reliability.

According to Wikipedia, the scientific method involves "rigorous skepticism about what is observed, given that cognitive assumptions can distort how one interprets the observation". Human beings are fallible, and for that reason, another important feature of the scientific method is replicability. This means that the results obtained by one scientist have to be capable of being obtained by others too. Replicability keeps everybody honest.

The scientific method is one of the fundamental building blocks upon which our technological society is based. The marvel is that we can all benefit from science without having to know or understand anything about it! When scientists speak, we should listen to what they say.

Date Recorded: 
Friday, May 15, 2020
Date Posted: 
Friday, May 15, 2020
Type of GEM: 
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