Talk:Scientific method

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The[edit]

(Please don't archive this section: it is a resurrecting issue, and a permanent pointer to discussion is useful)

Shouldn't this article begin with a The? Has this debate already been had? Isn't it, "The Scientific method is a body of techniques..." Mathiastck 06:58, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

Yes, right at the top of Archive 11, there is debate on the definite article The. --Ancheta Wis 08:17, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
Ok well I vote to include "The" next time :) Mathiastck 18:12, 12 September 2006 (UTC)
There is/are "Scientific Method(s)/Process(es)", and then there is "The Scientific Method" - a more general, abstract model: Observation, Hypothesis, Experiment (repeat): this is "The Scientific Method"...it is more of a philosophical model than a process, as the body to which "Scientific Method" can/does refer(s). Am I right in thinking lack of "the" grammatically puts this method in way similar to the term "kung-fu" which is used without "the". For example, one does not say, "he used the kung fu on me!" I think journal citations showing use of "scientific method" minus the definite article "the" will be shown to be typos. One might see if there is a correlation in typo articles and authors of native asian (especially Japanese) toungue. It is known that the definte article is not used similarly in these asian languages as it is in english, and that new or late-comers to English may publish with this typo. Living and working in Berkeley, I have much experience with non-native English speakers of all types and feel the lack of definite article may in fact stem from native asian speaking individuals both authors and editors...unless of course the spirit of english wishes to refer to the scientific method as we do the kung fu. That does sound cool. 76.102.47.125 (talk) 00:51, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
Observation, Hypothesis and Experiment are the three primary and fundamental concepts in all methods of science. Experiment: Search the internet for "observation hypothesis experiment". Observation: the majority of results are for "the Scientific Method". Hypothesis: I have just used the scientific method. 71.156.103.213 (talk) 22:10, 10 November 2010 (UTC)

At the outset of the discussion about this issue, User:Wjbeaty pointed out some of the published current discussion in the field per WP:VER and WP:RS. He said: "Many scientists object to ... the very concept The Scientific Method, and they fight to get it removed from grade-school textbooks. Examples:

Experience has taught that scientific method should be viewed as a cluster of techniques or body of techniques. When diagrammed it might look something like a sunflower with an identifiable core with a bunch of petals representing various fields of science. Add or remove a few petals, and it still looks like a sunflower. Kenosis 19:23, 12 September 2006 (UTC)

[Is this the same P. Bridgman who suggested we might see revolutions such as Einstein's relativity earlier if we changed our scientific method: if we payed closer attention to the operations used in measuring (or observing) a phenomenon: if we add operational to the objective and natural requirements of a definition? Bridgman is referring, in the article above, to philosophies of science (IMO), not methodology - on which he has written books and many papers. Geologist (talk) 01:53, 2 February 2008 (UTC)]
My modest opinion: I disagree on "The". A laboratory experiment, a computer simulation, a theoretical model: all may be scientific but are far from using a unique and univocal method. One thing is to single out a body of criteria in order to define if a method of inquiry is scientific, and another is to say that there is only one such method. Also (but I might be wrong), I think there is an implicit usage in Wikipedia so as to use "The..." in reference to a book or a specific theory (e.g. "interpretation of dreams" and "The Interpretation of Dreams"). -- Typewritten 08:21, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
"Experience has taught that scientific method should be viewed as a cluster of techniques"

If this article is about a collection of methods, then the title should be Scientific methods. indil (talk) 02:18, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

A redirect already exists. I personally oppose a page move. This article is referenced by thousands of other articles already, under its current title, and is well-known under its current name. A google search shows that the current title is referenced over 4 times more frequently than the plural. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 11:04, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

This is absurd. The rhythm method isn't specific either: some people use calendars, some people count days, others guess. We still follow correct English grammar. I am WP:BRDing. MilesAgain (talk) 16:47, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

OK, I have done the R so D rather more than you did. This is not an issue of grammar as either is OK from that respect. It is a fundamental question and the balance is on not have the "The" there. --Bduke (talk) 22:18, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
I've changed it to "Scientific method refers to the body of techniques..."; perhaps this is a satisfactory solution? Andareed (talk) 23:39, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes; good. MilesAgain (talk) 12:50, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
I have looked at the Richard Feynman link given above. He does not use the phrase Scientific Mathod", and far from arguing that it should be removed from grade school textbooks, he seems to be arguing strongly that it should be taught. Rjm at sleepers (talk) 08:47, 19 April 2008 (UTC)
  • I'm confused. None of those pages seem to insinuate that the problem is the article "the". They seem to contest the idea of the scientific method itself. Then again, I'm very tired, and not at all that attentive to begin with.  Aar  ►  09:30, 3 May 2009 (UTC)
    The best discussion on 'the' that I have seen comes from Mark Twain. One could argue this is all a fine point for those who think in English. There are languages that get along without a 'the', after all. But there is a part of English, the subjunctive mood, which is a good basis for the hypothesis and prediction steps of scientific method, and without which I believe it is hard to explain scientific method. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 20:04, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
  • It is an issue of grammar. In titles, the article is commonly and correctly used to refer to a body or cluster of similar things: The Elements of Style; The Working Dog; The Racing Motorcycle; The Successful Investor. "Elements of Style" could be okay because "elements" is plural, but neither "Working Dog" nor "Racing Motorcycle" are suitable titles. Likewise, "Scientific Methods" would be fine. But both "Scientific Method" and "Successful Investor" are awkward and off-putting to native English speakers.````KellyArt 11:07, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm a native English-speaker and it doesn't put me off. "Scientific method" in singular form sans expected article seems like a mass noun. The Tetrast (talk) 05:39, 15 June 2011 (UTC).
But the point is that neither method nor scientific method is a mass noun. Therefore the absence of the article sounds wrong (to many or most speakers). Where is the linguistic argument that native speaker intuition (here, that's a real mass noun, therefore no article is needed) is wrong here? --Florian Blaschke (talk) 13:40, 19 September 2012 (UTC)
By the way, I'm not referring to the title. Scientific method is fine as an article title, but the way scientific method is used in the introduction without an article is plainly ungrammatical. The body of the article uses "the scientific method", showing how ridiculous this insistence on the absence of the article is. See also wikt:scientific method. As pointed out by MilesAgain, the scientific method is a general term and may be used to cover more than one technique, or variant (or part/substructure) of a basic methodical paradigm, compare also methodology, which is often essentially used synonymously with method. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 13:43, 19 September 2012 (UTC)
Fine, I have realised that method can indeed be used as a mass noun, but the scientific method is equally possible (and more common, not only according to my own observation but also Wiktionary) and does not imply that there is only a single way of doing scientific research. Also, the article is internally inconsistent in its use of the with scientific method. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 14:24, 19 September 2012 (UTC)
There has been a historical shift in the use of 'definite article'+"scientific method". It was popularized as 'the' in the nineteenth c., but 'the' was eventually shot down in the 20th century. That is the reason that "a scientific method" is attempted usage in the article. I personally shrink from being the bad cop enforcing 'indefinite article'+"scientific method" in this article; you are welcome to enforce this. Note that according to Richard Popkin, when Francisco Sanches (16th c.) innovated use of the idea of a "method of knowing" (modus sciendi in Latin), he apparently published a book in Spanish Metodo universal de las ciencias(the book is now lost) which has no definite article in the title. For citations, see note 49 in history of scientific method, which cites a 1703 reference to the Spanish title. --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 03:49, 20 September 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── For the record, back in 2005, User:Adraeus came up with the idea of finessing the controversy over 'the' by simply using indefinite article 'a'. It seems a simple solution. At that time, there were passionate arguments even denying the existence of "the scientific method", which I am afraid will be re-ignited by reverting to the common "the". I admit it is common usage, which simply ignores the arguments from past (or future) editors. --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 04:45, 20 September 2012 (UTC)

FWIW the absence of "the" sounds extremely wrong to me, and I have never heard it used without "the" in regular discourse. Arc de Ciel (talk) 04:23, 20 September 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────As per my edit summary, I edited the lead sentence to include both versions. I placed "the" first as the more commonly used. For example, it's the name generally used in educational materials available to the broader public - a couple of educational resources I found quickly are 1 2 3 - there are more as well. Arc de Ciel (talk) 04:38, 20 September 2012 (UTC)

(response to Ancheta) Both versions are still there. It seemed a relatively minor issue to me, which is why I didn't edit it before (plus I didn't think of the compromise of just including both), but then I realized that the perceived awkwardness would reduce ease of reading. There shouldn't be any compromise with accuracy in an encyclopedia, and my impression is that Wikipedia is much better "defended" than it used to be. For example, the Science article seems to have done fine. :-) I've added back the hidden text though, asking for talk page discussion before making changes to the lead sentence. Arc de Ciel (talk) 05:47, 20 September 2012 (UTC)
Ancheta, I do not think that the 16th century Spanish title is of any relevance for 20th century English use. According to my observation at least, in Spanish, especially in headlines and titles, similar to Anglophone Headlinese, you can actually drop articles often, anyway, and in fact, the Spanish Wikipedia article uses the article: el método científico. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 12:38, 27 September 2012 (UTC)
Ancheta's attempt at resolution is a good one, but when I saw this page in Google results it actually drew my attention to a debate which should be pretty insignificant. I respectfully suggest that an alternative way would be to use the formatting to imply both, as in, "The scientific method . . ." This makes the sentence sound correct to those readers who feel it requires it, but bolds only the actual topic of the article. I'm generally reluctant to engage in or follow this type of debate, so if consensus favors my suggestion, please don't wait for me to make the change.--~TPW 17:31, 29 March 2013 (UTC)

Recent edit by User:Historian7[edit]

The recent edit by @Historian7 appears to be at least partially cut and pasted from other sources. I suggest that Historian7 revert this recent edit. Looking after things, Grandma (talk) 21:43, 22 November 2014 (UTC)

See discussion at User talk:I'm your Grandma. Grandma (talk) 00:07, 23 November 2014 (UTC)

At User talk:I'm your Grandma. I am informed that World Heritage Encyclopedia actually copies articles from Wikipedia. My seeing similarities between WHE and W caused me to make inferences that were not true, and I have apologized to Historian7. Grandma (talk) 01:45, 23 November 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 15 December 2014[edit]

Change 3rd paragraph first sentence from: "The purpose of an experiment is to determine whether observations agree with or conflict with the predictions derived from an hypothesis." To: "The purpose of an experiment is to determine whether observations agree with or conflict with the predictions derived from a hypothesis." Because: The article AN is used before singular, countable nouns which begin with vowel sounds. Nikzilla3 (talk) 19:29, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done thanks for the eye Cannolis (talk) 19:58, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

Experiment Locations[edit]

The “Experiments can be conducted in a college lab, on a kitchen table, at CERN's Large Hadron Collider, at the bottom of an ocean, on Mars, and so on…” section is lengthy (rather than funny, from my view) and may better be shortened to “Experiments can be conducted anywhere,” if it is at all relevant to mention. Proposing instead of simply editing for it’s _so_ lengthy, it seems someone might have fallen in love with this wording. ;) – j9t (talk) 16:36, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

@j9t, Be bold. You can use the talk page or wait further, if you are more comfortable with that. --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 20:40, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
It occurs to me that prudent investigators marshal their resources during a scientific experiment, or otherwise envision the consequences of their experiments, in a thought experiment, before starting a chain of unfortunate events. But a wikipedia edit is almost free of consequence, so my first reply is still apropos. --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 20:48, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
The pertinent point of an experiment is to distinguish 'What is known?' from 'What is not known?'. Thus during the Surveyor program in the 'sixties, 'What is not known?' was 'How deep is the dust on the Moon?'. Thus the robotic expeditions, as part of the serious science to get a man on the Moon in the 'sixties. --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 22:44, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

Non-Provability of Theories[edit]

A point usually omitted regarding the scientific method is that it is not possible to "prove" a theory. The best that can be said is that a theory has not yet been shown to be false! Observers continue to build a body of experiments which fail to disprove the theory so that with many such experiments, workers come to believe in its correctness. Paul Carver (talk) 15:08, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

The article says: "That is, no theory can ever be considered final, since new problematic evidence might be discovered." Myrvin (talk) 18:22, 17 January 2015 (UTC)