# Talk:Scientific method/Archive 16

## Paradigms of scientific method - 1

Science as a practice is an art, the exercise of a skill by its practitioners. The philosophy of science (POS) is also an art, not an "authority", practiced by those we can call epistomologists, many of whom are also scientists in various fields. The demarcation or boundary of the practice is a matter on which honest persons can and do disagree, just as they do for other fields of inquiry or practice, like law, medicine, engineering, or landscaping. The main purpose of philosophic examination of the method scientists use is to comment on and regulate the reliability of their findings. This can have a practical value in helping decide whose work to fund and how much to fund it. But don't give too much weight to the views of postmodernists. They are just one school of thought and not one that is thought highly of by most practicing scientists. Also beware of those who try to apply the methods used in the physicial sciences to complex phenomena like those studied in economics or the social sciences, seeking to claim comparable reliability. Many fields are about irreproducibles like history, in which we can find models that explain, but not models that can predict or control. Bracton (talk) 15:38, 28 February 2009 (UTC)

It is worthwhile to examine what it is that the postmodernists are doing. They are examining scientific practice as a sociological phenomenon or as an artform for which they are providing literary criticism. They have managed to get some academic institutions to pay them to do that. But while the sociological study of scientific practice may produce some useful insights, and literary criticism can help some to decide which works to "buy", one should beware of giving too much weight to their findings, any more than we might give to movie reviewers in deciding which movies to see. Bracton (talk) 16:07, 28 February 2009 (UTC)

Decades ago I saw what Post-Modernists and Deconstructionists were doing to literature in literary criticism - with their disrespect for (literary) writers and a total obtuseness about literary problematics from a writer's viewpoint, the literary traditions formed thereby, and the cultivation of sensibility that appreciates such work's qualities, in the work and even in all things. I felt sure that they were revving up for an analogous attack on science, scientists, and the rational cultivation of experience, and lo and behold.
But in those pre-Internet days I had nobody to tell. (I had a hopeless thought of writing to Martin Gardner to ask him to think twice before attacking real poets like W.C. Williams when they were under attack by people who were preparing to attack real science.) Since then I've encountered at least one PoMo theorist who loves literature in the "right" way, not merely as grist for a political/ideological agenda, but such seems the exception. I don't deny political, ideological, and other non-literary dimensions in literature but that doesn't excuse treating it like a rag doll. Generally I would not give credit to PoMo for its work in literary criticism, work which was the precursor and base-building for its attacks on science. The Tetrast (talk) 17:36, 28 February 2009 (UTC)
you shouldn't trash post-modernism (and that's a bad term, really) as a whole this way. the various movements that get lumped under this rubric all have different motivations and purposes. I'l grant that the movements tend to attract academics who are more interested in being snooty rebels than doing serious work (the way that the Rock industry tends to attract artists who are more interested in strutting their stuff than making music), but that doesn't deny the value of the work that does get done.
That's an academic-centric way of looking at things (literature dropped quite off the radar), but it's not even pro-academic to hold that a little good work redeems a whole rotten field. To the contrary everybody should trash post-modernism, so that self-styled "post-modernists" who are in fact doing reputable work will disassociate themselves from them. Generally Post-Modernists are found in English Departments. PoMo couldn't make it in the Philosophy Department or even the Sociology Department and instead invaded the English Department. They're bad at philosophy and they generally don't care about literature except for the status & security they can win in exploiting and trashing it.
The English Department is for teaching literature. Traditionally the English Department has not been the greatest boon to literature but thanks to PoMo it's become a plague on literature, so what are they doing there? Most of them should be fired. They haven't been any better toward science and they'll do even worse if they get the chance. The Tetrast (talk) 02:04, 1 March 2009 (UTC)
back on point: what we're dealing with when we talk about science is epistemology, not ontology. Science itself may be concerned with discovering the way the world is (some people think yes, some people think no), but what we are concerned with in these kinds of discussions is how we can know anything about the world. fact of the matter is, no one knows. Science is a journeyman trade: people learn to do science by sitting down with scientists and learning to do what they do, and it's been that way since the first village shaman started teaching the brightest local kid about which plants were medicinal and which were poisonous. 'the scientific method' is an invented concept (invented, moreover, by people who are clearly philosophers of science) to try to explain those journeymen intuitions and give science some kind of ontological foundation, while the various modern philosophical critiques of science which get lumped under the PoMo label are actually trying to disabuse people of the notion that 'Science' is something monolithically and ontologically true. and that's a valid point: the people who get hung up on the ontology of science are really fighting a war that ended in the 19th or early 20th century (in which science felt compelled to show itself as true to counter the 'revealed truth' of the religious thought). --Ludwigs2 00:51, 1 March 2009 (UTC)
The subject here is not how we can know anything, the usual subject of epistemology, the conditions of the possibility of knowledge or however you want to phrase it. The subject here is, instead, the practice and methods of scientific inquiry, to which philosophical theory of inquiry and empirical research into inquiry are relevant. The point of thematizing scientific method is not to provide an ontological, metaphysical, or epistemological foundation but instead, in a broad and practical sense, a logical foundation. The PoMo theorists have gone very much further than reiterating the old arguments that science is not monolithic or metaphysically authoritative; they have made a lot of silly attacks on science that were just as superficial as the ones they made on literature, have displaced the real work that people in their departments could have been doing, and have contributed to the intellectual degeneration of our era. I've known a few theorists who call themselves "Post-Modernist" and who do seem reputable, not to mention brilliant. But the central thrust has been destructive. It needs to be trashed, its cachet or sheen or whatever, destroyed. The Tetrast (talk) 02:04, 1 March 2009 (UTC)
since I don't know what you have in mind when you say this, I can't really speak to your objection, except that it strikes me as needlessly prejudicial. Are you objecting to someone like Feyerabend (who basically poopoos the the notion that there's anything remotely resembling a 'scientific method')? Academia is always a simmer pot - 90% of what gets proposed there boils away to nothing, and what's left actually works. waste is normal, and expected.
and note, please, that a 'logical foundation' (as you put it) is just a euphemism for an ontological foundation: something that can be pointed to as 'real' and 'true' and 'solid' (the way the ancient Greeks thought they found an ontological reality in mathematical geometry). changes in language don't change the fundamental problem. --Ludwigs2 03:31, 1 March 2009 (UTC)

## Paradigms of scientific method - 2

To provide a historical framework, the modernist "operational" paradigm was on its way to displacing the pre-operational paradigm, driven largely by developments in physics: relativity and quantum mechanics. However, some key post-modernists like Feyeraband did actually have a suppressive influence on this displacement, and much of that did involve operating from philosophy departments, not just English departments. The result is that even today scientific method is taught in the public schools using the 19th century pre-operational paradigm, and the results can be seen in the evolutionism vs. creationism debate, in which neither side argues its position competently, but the scientific position is crippled by its inability to competently use the operational paradigm. Although it is not our job as editors to tip the scales, it may be appropriate to put these paradigms in historical context. Bracton (talk) 04:46, 1 March 2009 (UTC)

true enough from a Kuhnian worldview; not sure I buy it completely, though... --Ludwigs2 05:16, 1 March 2009 (UTC)
As Wikipedia editors it makes sense to adopt a Kuhnian paradigm in writing about what scientists and philosophers do and have done. That does not mean, however, that we should adopt a post-modernist paradigm that treats all paradigms as equal (including their own if they are to be self-consistent), as mere convention or historical accident. These paradigms are systems of models, in the operational paradigm, and there is still a matter of utility to distinguish among them. Some paradigms, like some models in scientific method, are more useful than others.
We can see this by looking at the earlier discussion above of whether relativity theory "disproved" Newtonian theory. In the operational paradigm that is not a meaningful statement. Relativity (like quantum machanics) is more useful for explaining, predicting, and controlling some kinds of phenomena, such as masses moving at relativistic velocities, but Newtonian models may remain more useful for phenomena for which relativity does not make a practical difference and is computationally more expensive. Practicing physicists still use Newtonian models for appropriate situations.
Where all this matters most is in two areas: selecting research or engineeering projects to fund, and educating people to the field. For these purposes the operational paradigm is generally more useful, and should be encouraged. Too many people are confusing themselves in pointless attempts to distinguish among "facts", "hypotheses", and "theories", or to argue about whether a "theory" has been "disproved". The proper role of philosophy is to clarify thought so people don't waste more time and energy thinking than they need to. Bracton (talk) 05:44, 2 March 2009 (UTC)
There is a time in the process of investigation when "facts", "hypotheses", and "theories" ought to be considered: Ludwik Fleck (1935), The Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact writes of the stages before an operational definition has stabilized. His views were ignored upon publication, with Karl Popper's book, which was published in the same year, receiving more acclaim. Kuhn admits that he has not completely reconciled Fleck's views with his own (see his intro to Fleck's book). Fleck uses the Wassermann test as his vehicle for illustrating the genesis of a fact. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 17:02, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

I took the liberty of breaking this section into parts. I hope others will approve.

The operational paradigm, properly understood, is not about stability, and encompasses the rather messy processes of discovery. An operation doesn't need to be stable or well-defined to be an operation. The paradigm is about how we formalize our understanding and discussion of what we are doing. The disorderly process by which an investigator pokes around on what he thinks may be a new phenomenon, before he even gets to anything anyone might want to call a "fact", "hypothesis", or "theory", are all operations, and can be formalized as such. Just asking the question to oneself, "What the hell is that?" -- is an operation, even if it doesn't yield a particularly useful observation for a while.

This is not idle mental masturbation. It is leading toward the "mechanization" of scientific discovery, computer programs that can do what scientists do, from the elementary distinguishing of an object from its background all the way to a Theory of Everything. It is the fulfillment of the dream of the logical positivists,l but using tools they didn't have. Bracton (talk) 20:33, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

Well, keep in mind that Kuhn originally (though he later backed off from this a bit) thought that 'science' was a purely social construction. Sure, there's the pragmatic aspect that experiments have to do something regularly observable, but otherwise the paradigm was nothing more than an agreed-upon convention for how one gets along in the social world of science (e.g. our discipline uses these tools and expects these results presented in this form, so that's what you do to be in our discipline). Pre-paradigmatic ideas (pre-operational isn't Kuhn, it's Piaget) are simply ideas in a realm where no idea has established itself as a cultural norm. This is actually a lot closer to post-constructivist thinking than most people realize - Kuhn just didn't take that extra step of suggesting that science-culture norms are meaningless science-culture norms. And the proper role of philosophy is to clarify ideas so that people aren't misled by improper thought. I've never seen a philosopher who advocated laziness in thought; almost to a person, they advocate more and more careful thought by the average person. --Ludwigs2 23:03, 2 March 2009 (UTC)
I took the liberty to capitalize the first words of your sentences and remove repeated words.
Philosophers might not advocate mental laziness, but there are certainly many who have practiced it, and they have sometimes had a baneful influence. The same also sometimes happens in the sciences, especially the social sciences, or in science education or research funding decisionmakihng. I am hesitant to characterize thought as "improper", only as "ineffective" for its apparent purpose. But some paradigms are more effective than others for guiding education and allocation of resources. Kuhn contributed some insight that is useful, perhaps more than he himself understood or appreciated. But we are not bound to his limitations. Bracton (talk) 04:59, 3 March 2009 (UTC)
Please refrain from editing the responses of other editors. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 05:04, 3 March 2009 (UTC)
Ancheta - it's ok. as long as there's no change in meaning, I don't mind some copyediting. I'm a sloppy typist. but in general you're point is correct.
Bracton - I think we're starting to drift pretty far from point, though it's an interesting debate if you'd like to take it up somewhere else. My main point was that you were talking from a Kuhnian perspective, which is a fine perspective, but I'm not sure that it's an entirely correct perspective. The jury is still out on that. I think it's best not to be too committed to a particular viewpoint in this conversation, otherwise conversation is going to get congested. that's all. --Ludwigs2 05:25, 3 March 2009 (UTC)
I only adopt the Kuhnian perspective for a limited purpose, the use of the concept of paradigm to help clarify discussion of the topic. What I would like to do is restructure this article to point out that there are several paradigms and to insert some material on the history and controversy involving them. In other words, move some of this debate we have been having into the main article. But I would like to develop some consensus on that before I do it. Bracton (talk) 05:38, 3 March 2009 (UTC)
ah, ok. I understand. and that does sound like a good idea. do you want to work up an outline so we can see what you have in mind? that might make the discussion clearer, as well. --Ludwigs2 05:49, 3 March 2009 (UTC)
An outline will take some time, and it may be easier to just rewrite it in my sandbox. I will let you know when it is at a stage for comment. Bracton (talk) 10:00, 4 March 2009 (UTC)
My present thought is to move parts of the sections "Models of scientific inquiry" and "History" into the section "Elements of scientific method" and rename it "Paradigms and history", to focus on the formal structures, followed immediately by the "inquiry" section for a discussion of the processes using the methods, such as the cycles of iteration. I propose to expand on the contributions of Francis Bacon, Galileo, and Newton. I also propose to move the DNA examples out and into a separate article, and replace them with examples from the physical sciences, such as brief mentions of Newtonian and relativistic mechanics and atomic theory, since it is the physical sciences that have most influenced thought on scientific method and provide the clearest applications of it. I propose to remove much of the material duplicated in breakout articles, such as the long paragraphs on abduction, deduction, and induction, replacing them with shorter paragraphs. Bracton (talk) 10:45, 4 March 2009 (UTC)

The claim in the current version of this page concerning Popper, that he denied the scientific method, took me quite by surprise. How can anyone believe that he blew it off like that? Of course this is wrong.

Nor is "trial and error" even close to accurate. Rather, his belief is in a very specific kind of "trial and error", whose success in weeding out falsehood is described under the term "fallibilism".

But neither is fallibilism the whole of his philosophy of science. Conjecturalism is also a vital ingredient. So are rationalism and skepticism. 64.105.137.58 (talk) 18:49, 12 March 2009 (UTC)

I agree the article seems to have been dominated by someone with an anti Popper POV. Lumos3 (talk) 11:18, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

## Reminder - please use the edit summary

Please use the edit summary when completing your contribution; "it is good practice to fill in the Edit Summary field, or add to it in the case of section editing, as it helps everyone to understand what is changed, such as when perusing the history of the page" quoted from Help:Edit summary. See the article history for examples. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 13:48, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

## Multiple fundamental defects

There is a widely-held opinion that "hypothesis testing" is essential and central to the scientific method.

Alas, this opinion has no basis in fact. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan was fond of saying, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but they are not entitled to their own facts.

The fact is that scientists use many methods. Hypothesis testing is one method among many. It is sometimes helpful and sometimes not.

Because this Wikipedia article emphasizes hypothesis testing out of all proportion to its actual importance, the article must be considered UNBALANCED at the very least. Most research scientists would consider it simply INCORRECT.

The long-running dispute over using the definite article ("the") in front of "scientific method" is silly. The underlying fact remains that scientists use many methods. The term "scientific method" is a singular noun. Leaving off the definite article does not magically make it plural; it just makes the article UNGRAMMATICAL. The proper way to proceed is to rename the article to "Scientific methods". This instantly makes the article more factual and more grammatical.

``` (1) It has been argued that the article should not be renamed, because
thousands of other articles link to the existing name.  This
argument is without merit.  For one thing, it reverses the role of
cause and effect.  The other articles link to the existing name
because it exists, not because it is correct.  If the plural form
had been used all along, as it should have, then the other articles
```
``` Similarly, note that just because it's in the Wikipedia doesn't make
it true.  As of 15 Mar 2009 there were two inequivalent entries for
"Bullsnake" and "Bull snake" ... which is obviously absurd.
```
``` Omitting the definite article is like putting a Band-Aid on an
infection.  It does not solve the fundamental problem, and does
not even do a good job of disguising the problem.
```
``` (2) The argument that we should imagine a single "scientific method"
with minor variations is also without merit.  There is a huge range
of disparate scientific methods.  They share a common goal but
method-wise have little in common.

Also the dispute over the definite article indicates that claim (2)
has not been accepted.
```
``` (3) The observation that web references to "the scientific method"
slightly outnumber references to "scientific methods" is irrelevant.
The principle here is that prevalence does not imply correctness.
For example, web references to "UFO" slightly outnumber references
to "semiconductor" ... but this does not imply anything about the
factual correctness of the UFO articles, or the importance of UFO
technology to our daily lives.
```
``` (4) The name is important only insofar as it reflects the content
of the article.  Renaming is only worthwhile if it reflects and/or
promotes fundamental changes in the content of the article.
```

The "linearized, pragmatic scheme" enumerated in the article may loosely -- very loosely -- describe some activities in some subareas of science, far from the leading edge. Alas, the article implicitly promotes this from descriptive to normative, which is just wrong. What's worse, it implicitly applies this "scheme" to leading-edge research, which is a travesty.

All in all, this article is muddled and unfocused, and urgently NEEDS ATTENTION FROM AN EXPERT. Records show that the article has undergone thousands of edits from hundreds of editors, but apparently most of those edits have come from non-experts and are based on nothing more than third-hand reports of how science is done.

As it stands, the article is a disservice to readers. It needs a TOP-TO-BOTTOM REWRITE starting with a change in approach and a change in attitude. The article needs to be based on expert understanding and a balanced view of the many scientific methods. Jsd 21:21, 15 March 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jsd (talkcontribs)

Be Bold, if you have the time and expertise. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 21:46, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
1a: Might you have a bot in mind to handle the details which you have sketched?
2: to quote H.S. Wall: "The little words are important. When I say I have a son, that does not imply I have only one son.". The English text is currently correct, in this regard.
I have found a citation which addresses the the:
"There indeed is no such thing as "the" scientific method. A scientist uses a very great variety of exploratory stratagems, ... According to Popper's methodology every recognition of a truth is preceded by an imaginative preconception of what the truth might be ... by hypotheses such as William Whewell first called "happy guesses" ..." -- P. B. Medawar (Nobel Laureate, 1960), The Limits of Science, p.51 ISBN 0-06-039036-0
Peirce also agreed that hypotheses constitute guesses, and this was in the article, at one time, years ago.
3: Normative or nominal denotation might well be flagged. Might you have templates in mind to mechanize this? For the beginner, might these points serve to persuade them that science is not for them?
4: If you are speaking for point 1a, might point 4 contradict this? If not, might 1a and 4 be deferred for later action?
Those of use who are devoted to this article might well appreciate the attention of experts in its behalf. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 22:28, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
Does the following citation for the linearized pragmatic version
• Crawford S, Stucki L (1990), "Peer review and the changing research record", "J Am Soc Info Science", vol. 41, pp 223-228
include all 8 bullet points? If not, can we find more citations in the next month, say? Ancheta Wis (talk) 11:48, 16 March 2009 (UTC)
More citations won't help. It is easy to find innumerable citations in support of an opinion, but that doesn't promote it from opinion to fact. As previously remarked, everybody is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts. Similarly it is easy to find innumerable citations in support of an unbalanced POV, but that doesn't make the article any less unbalanced. --Jsd 17:11, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
To all editors: the phrase bodies of techniques was restored to the article, having been recently edited out. Apparently this has opened the door to additional critiques. I propose to let the tag stand for a time, to wait for constructive action. If nothing constructive has happened yet, after a month, say, I propose to move the tag to the talk page. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 11:32, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

I agree with the assertion that there are multiple fundamental flaws in the article. For example, Mathematics is a science, yet the "Relationship with Mathematics" section sounds like a patronizing piece of propaganda. Science is certainly not limited to just Biology, Chemistry, or Physics as some would have us believe. Furthermore, the article is heavily biased towards the "empirical evidence is God" doctrine. There is plenty of prior work that criticises this narrow view. For example: work by Karl Popper; various articles on the net. Yet there is no "Criticism" section. My personal view is that the concept of "Scientific Method" (as illustrated by the article) attempts to define what is "scientific" and, as such, has a recursive definition, which is absurd. And because it defines "scientific", it is unfalsifiable and dogmatic. Surely I'm not the first to come up with such ideas? --Guid123 (talk) 09:32, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Mathematics, far from being a competitor to scientific method, is a formal science with an extremely complementary relationship to scientific method, a discipline that uses methods of proof that are in many respects far stricter a-priori axiomatic proofs than the empirical sciences. In empirical inquiry, a replicable demonstration of even a relatively-small-but-consistent statistical correlation will commonly suffice as evidence that some sort of natural phenomenon is in play in a particular area of inquiry, be it biological, chemical, physical, social or psychological. Mathematics' complementarity to scientific method(s) is well known, universally respected, and essentially taken for granted in the scientific community, whose participants are generally expected to be adequately skilled in appropriate mathematical methods for their particular discipline.
..... As to Popper, did you have a particular period in mind in his long career?-- I don't recall him being critical of the expectation that scientific theories, hypotheses and speculations must be empirically testable. Indeed he tended to be quite supportive of this notion, even being quite strict in his advocacy of empirical falsifiability to the point where he's often been stereotyped as a falsificationist. ... Kenosis (talk) 11:49, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

## Hypothesis testing

Jsd, Does "hypothesis testing"=statistical hypothesis testing?. Can you clarify, please? --Ancheta Wis (talk) 10:06, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
They are not strictly equal, because sometimes hypothesis testing requires statistics, and sometimes not. OTOH it would be easy to construct a "Hypothesis testing" page that included Statistical hypothesis testing as a special case. This might help considerably, by making it possible to eradicate most of the long, muddled, and unbalanced discussion of hypothesis testing from the Scientific methods article. (The article as it stands is too long, in addition to its other flaws.) The fact that the discussion on the Statistical hypothesis testing page bears little resemblance to the corresponding discussion on the Scientific methods page can be taken as yet another measure of how deeply flawed the latter is. --Jsd 17:33, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
At the next level of detail: There is a pedagogical issue here. (A) An introductory discussion of hypothesis testing would start with a few discrete hypotheses and Boolean truth values (true versus false; tenable versus untenable hypotheses). This can be formalized in terms of set theory. Meanwhile, (B) the general case includes statistical hypothesis testing. This includes infinite sets and continuous probability distributions. This, too, can be formalized in terms of set theory. From a sufficiently sophisticated standpoint, (A) and (B) can be seen as essentially the same. However, the machinery required for case (B) is overkill for case (A). At the very least we can say there is a gross mismatch between the sophistication of the existing Statistical hypothesis testing article and the unsophistication of the existing Scientific methods article. --Jsd 18:37, 17 March 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jsd (talkcontribs)
Jsd, thank you for your responses; in light of the detail in the explanatory url you have provided in the article, your position is somewhat clearer. I have to state that I have never seen this position before, and defer to your greater experience in this. But have you considered what was in the article before your edits? Before your changes, the article quite clearly related the provisional nature of hypothesis as a tool for reasoning, rather than from the basis which you appear to attack as a label for amateurs. I read your work in the URL you have provided as a principled statement very much in line with the views of Alhazen (see the quotation from Alhazen below).
The current state of the encyclopedia, in which 'hypothesis testing' is merely a redirect to statistical hypothesis testing reflects the undeveloped nature of the encyclopedia in this regard. William Glen has probably stated the role of hypothesis most clearly, as noted in the article, which already notes that the predictions suggested by hypothesis are probably their most useful feature. But that fact that some researchers have ideas so fecundly, and the fact that they throw out most of them (the bad ones, as Linus Pauling has said) serves as a forum for filtering, if not formal testing. That means that disclosure of the ideas to the community serves a vital function (as a test of said idea, as it were).
Might I suggest that you separate the 'hypothesis testing' label, which you currently have contributed to the article, from the idea that hypotheses are provisional in nature (being merely guesses), and which need to be winnowed by one means or another (hopefully by the hypothesizer, as noted by Alhazen -- see quotation below). In fact, this position is echoed in our current day by no less than Feynman ("You need to be your own worst critic", etc.). However, this is not necessarily scientific method, as noted by Lee Smolin, although it might be recognized as guidance to researchers.
I recognize that your contributions are sincere.
The deontic attacks by Feyerabend vis a vis no scientific method are quite clearly rhetorical in nature, designed to shake up an establishment 'sitting on the laurels garnered by others' (Paul Feyerabend (1980) "How to defend society against science", in a talk given to the philosophy society, Sussex University, November 1974, as included in pages 55-65, Introductory Readings in the philosophy of science, ISBN 0-87975-134-7, Klemke, Hollinger and Kline, eds.), and need not be read necessarily as contributions to the philosophy of science, rather as ethical or political statements due to Feyerabend's outrage and opportunism. Lee Smolin's attempts to work with Feyerabend also show this (Lee Smolin (2006), The trouble with physics, ISBN 0-618-55105-0, pp 290-293 ).--Ancheta Wis (talk) 18:36, 9 April 2009 (UTC)

## DNA example

Christian Skeptic, The header markup is currently not working within the example. Please restore it. Thank you, --Ancheta Wis (talk) 01:19, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

Christian Skeptic, thank you for making the links work again. From the latest edit summary it appears that you would like for the DNA example to be moved within the TOC. If that were true, then I propose that that text be moved. Perhaps the text starting with "Keystones of Science ...", and ending with the McElheny citation, might be moved. Might that jibe with your vision?
If so, I could move said text, say, within the Introduction to Scientific method section. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 08:37, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

Any response on the position of DNA example? --Ancheta Wis (talk) 13:49, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

I was editing a response when the page was changed.  :)
I understand the usefulness of the DNA example. But I think that the TOC should be like this.
3 Elements of scientific method
3.1 Characterizations
3.2 Hypothesis development
3.3 Predictions from the hypothesis
3.4 Experiments
This empathizes the elements and not the example. If you know how to do that, great. Christian Skeptic (talk) 13:55, 4 April 2009 (UTC)
OK, done. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 14:33, 4 April 2009 (UTC)
looks good. makes more sense.. Christian Skeptic (talk) 18:28, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

[outdent] I'm really concerned that the DNA example is wrong. W+C did not form the hypothesis that the gene was physical, there were dozens of scientists working on the physical basis of the gene before W+C. When they published the hypothesis, they already knew from the work of others (Rosalind Frankin) that there was a helix and the bases were always in fixed ratio A=T, C=G. Some consider it quite quite shameful that W+C alone were awarded an experimental Nobel when the only experimental work was carried out by others... So can we at least correct the attributions of the basis of DNA structure or pick a simpler example? Cheers MarkC (talk) 16:03, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

I agree that it is not good to say they were the first to hypothesis the physical basis of a gene. With regard to the argument that "W+C alone were awarded an experimental Nobel" i have less sympathy with since that assumes a narrow definition of an experiment. Or are the Nobel prize rules specific with respect to the definition of experiment? David D. (Talk) 18:30, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
No assertion needs to be made that W+C were the first to hypothesize a helix. Multiple iterations had to be made to attack the problem. It took multiple people to realize the discovery. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 18:52, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
I don't mean helix, I mean the "physical basis of a gene" part. They were not the first, Morgan was making gene maps of chromosomes, is that not a physical basis? Physical in this case is a poor word to use in this context. David D. (Talk) 19:03, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
Actually the article does not mention physical basis of gene. It does say " predicted that the double helix structure provided a simple mechanism for DNA replication,". This is a little misleading since the double helix was not the key point. The key part of the structure from a genetic perspective was the complementary nature of the bases and hence the potential for a template. David D. (Talk) 19:11, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
You probably meant Morgan's student, Sturtevant, who named the centimorgan in his teacher's honor. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 20:45, 8 May 2009 (UTC)
I was referring to Morgan's lab. David D. (Talk) 21:29, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Your statements do not fit the timeline.
You are quite right that multiple people were wrestling with the problem. Read McElheny, Victor K. (2004) ISBN 0-7382-0866-3 which was already cited before your change. There were many issues, but the idea of a physical basis for the gene was the foundation of the research breakthrough. Physicists, Biologists and Chemists had to cooperate in this, each with their own ontological basis. Remember that Rosalind Franklin had not published her work at the time of the helical hypothesis by Watson and Crick, who were subsequently forbidden from working on DNA by their supervisor, as shown by the timeline in McElheny; remember that the gentlemen's agreement keeping people other than Wilkin's group from working on the physical structure of DNA was blown open by Pauling's hypothesis that DNA was a triple helix. Watson's The Double Helix is probably the most accessible work; other books show more detail; McElheny gives dates and times for the successive pieces of the discovery. The base pairs concept was in the process of formulation by Avery, Chargaff, etc. But nobody had a clear idea of what was going on as shown by the timeline in McElheny. It took a minimum of two people (i.e. Crick and Watson) working together to get the structure of DNA. Franklin's insistence on the traditional crystallographic analysis kept her from the breakthrough, which is documented in Double Helix.
However, it is not right to use the McElheny citation for your assertion. Please produce your own citation to support your assertion. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 18:03, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
The base pairs idea belongs in a separate iteration, not in the helical iteration, which is the whole point of photo 51. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 18:10, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

Reset the indentation. Looking back on this thread, I see that it is important to state who knew what at any given time. Scientific method is primarily about new knowledge. If something is known incompletely, which is the whole point, then what is known at any given time basically needs to be common knowledge (at least among those in that specific field), or else everyone is rediscovering the wheel.

Thus when some idea is in the air, that idea clearly is hypothesis until someone proves it (via logic or experiment). When recognition is awarded, those who have been recognized are responsible for the whole thing (explanatory hypothesis, prediction, experiment); I believe it is a just practice to couple this to the names of the researchers, who, after all, are also responsible for their acknowledgements and credits to those who came before them.

Anyone who has an idea about more clearly expressing this is welcome to contribute a clarification to the article. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 19:18, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

Above I am not questioning the concept of hypothesis. My only point above is that in the articles examples the attributions of hypothesis and the significance of the discoveries need to be accurate. David D. (Talk) 21:03, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
OK, I just found the 'physical basis' part, the article states:
"DNA-hypotheses: Crick and Watson hypothesized that the gene had a physical basis - it was helical.[11]"
This is not correct as far as I'm aware, what does the source actually say? I would have thought it would be more accurate as "hypothesized that the DNA structure was helical." David D. (Talk) 03:47, 7 May 2009 (UTC)
yes that is the point. The brief intro here should start with their starting point and if I remember they were first grappling with the bases. The idea of pairing was theirs I think but they couldn't see how to incorporate it until he phosphate backbone was put on the outside... So as an into to the idea of developing a hypothesis I think an earlier part of their work should be here, not the final conclusion which is expanded elsewhere in the piece. BUT I would still like a clearer example without the overtones of the bad behaviour toward Franklin which may have started with Wilkins. Of course to drop this complicated story would obviate much work of others but I feel its just too long and it doesn't really help the reader follow how the ideas develop IMHO. MarkC (talk) 04:38, 7 May 2009 (UTC)
I gave an example above but I also like Mark's version "Crick and Watson hypothesized that the bases were physically paired." But again, what does McElheny actually say, if it is what is currently written in the article then I'm not sure he is a good source. David D. (Talk) 04:47, 7 May 2009 (UTC)
I am currently travelling and cannot get to my books right now. The base pairs idea is a separate iteration. The DNA example steps through the helix iteration, and then continues with the base pairs idea at the very end (a new iteration). Please note that Crick's work on the Fourier transform of a helix is already in the DNA example, so clearly they were thinking about helices. Watson had been tutored by Crick ("Fourier transforms for birdwatchers" -- that was Watson), and Watson had already studied Tobacco mosaic virus -- which is helical. That is why Watson had the emotional reaction when he saw photo 51.
If the issue is with the unfair behavior, you can read about it in Watson's The Double Helix, which states explicitly that 'Americans (meaning Pauling) do not understand fair play'. This is part of the enduring fascination of Watson's memoir. There are many examples of this ilk, not just about Rosalind Franklin; consider Jocelyn Bell, or Emmy Noether. I personally have attempted to redress this with my edits to the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, and still get a thrill when I drive by the expressway sign to RFUMS. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 19:35, 7 May 2009 (UTC)
My issue is with the accuracy. We are paraphrasing scientists. Specifically:
"hypothesized that the gene had a physical basis - it was helical"
and
" predicted that the double helix structure provided a simple mechanism for DNA replication,"
but I'm not sure those ideas are reality. David D. (Talk) 19:58, 7 May 2009 (UTC)
If you prefer, the Nature statement by Watson and Crick "It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material." (which has been denoted "the most coy understatement in the history of science") might be worked in. (The specific sentence " predicted that the double helix structure provided a simple mechanism for DNA replication," was added by User:Carl Hewitt, himself quite well known for his work in a science.) But in 1954, the details for the unwinding of the helix, snipping of the genetic material and copying of the genetic material steps were not yet known. So it is perhaps unreasonable to be more specific about the phraseology. Francis Crick himself has noted that it would have been inappropriate the scientific community to have spent a great deal more time on the definitions before the structure of DNA was discovered. (I personally have no problem with removing Hewitt's edit.)
Perhaps the hypothetical phrase for the helix iteration might be re-written thus:
• DNA-hypotheses: Crick and Watson hypothesized that the genetic material had a physical basis - it was helical.
--Ancheta Wis (talk) 20:45, 8 May 2009 (UTC)
I can't agree with Hewitt's over simplification. The double helix itself (or any referral to helical) does not help one understand replication, it's the fact that the structure can act as a template that is the key. That is what Watson and Crick were referring to in the Nature paper ("specific pairing"). We don't have to quote it, just paraphrase it correctly. I'll rewrite it to a version I think is more accurate and see what you think. David D. (Talk) 21:24, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
OK. Fine. I look forward to your edit and improvement to Hewitt's text. (I added the detail from the McElheny footnotes. But I am travelling again tomorrow; I just quickly popped my books open for the expanded text from the pages which are already cited.) --Ancheta Wis (talk) 01:17, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

I'm concerned that the statement "It would have been counterproductive to spend much time on the definition of the gene, before them." has no basis in fact. The idea and properties of the gene do no depend on a physical structure per se. I would delete this sentence... Cheers MarkC (talk) 15:18, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

Agree. David D. (Talk) 15:20, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
However, this was Crick's viewpoint. I do not currently have Crick's The Astonishing Hypothesis in front of me, but the citation to its page 20 is in the article. I do have Crick's 1988 memoir (he autographed his photograph for me :-) ), What Mad Pursuit, page 139, ISBN 0-465-09137-7 in front of me, which echoes the concept, just stated more generally: "... There is a more general lesson to be drawn from the example of the genetic code. This is that, in biology, some problems are not ripe for a theoretical attack for two broad reasons. The first [is] ... the current mechanisms may be partly the result of historical accident. The other is that the "computations" involved may be exceedingly complicated. ... ". If your point is "that was then, this is now", then what can I say except that it ignores Crick's sagacity, his ability to cut through to the essential point for solving the problem as it then existed. It is a retrospective justification for Watson's cardboard models.
I cannot forebear not quoting from page 142: "It is amateurs who have one bright beautiful idea that they can never abandon. Professionals know that they have to produce theory after theory before they are likely to hit the jackpot."
That said, Be Bold. (It would be a shame to lose the footnote, though. Perhaps it might just be commented out, were you to choose deletion.) --Ancheta Wis (talk) 02:15, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

## Jumping horse

This Muybridge picture of a jumping horse does not show a 'flying horse' position. Perhaps the link might be useful. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 11:38, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

picts 6 and 7 come close to the "flying horse" position as does the following.

http://clackhi.nclack.k12.or.us/physics/projects/Final%20Project-2005/6-Final%20Project/HorseJump/HORSE%20Jumping027.jpg

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bristol/content/images/2007/05/08/horse_470x350.jpg

I think we should give the ancient artists a little leeway for artistic license. They weren't taking photographs. I really doubt that they thought the horses ran that way, but painted that way to give the impression of speed. The "heavenly horses" of eastern china were known for their great speed and endurance.

look at this ancient image of a "heavenly horse".

http://www.karakumstud.com/web/karakum.nsf/WebHome/B3BFFB189A1033F08525743D004FB427/\$file/Thumbnail.jpg

and this large copy of an ancient Chinese sculpture of a flying "heavenly horse."

I think this whole section on truth and belief is heavily flawed and using a single painting as evidence of how an entire cutlure thought is invalid and highly selective. Christian Skeptic (talk) 13:32, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

Now we are back to "What is truth". The painting is an English painting, not a Chinese painting.
The famous account of the twelve men observing the elephant, each with his own version is relevant here. Whewell and Aristotle point out that sagacity is needed for progress in science. It's essentially a rhetorical problem, to convince others of the truth or validity of the issue at hand.
Please note the TOC question above this section. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 13:49, 4 April 2009 (UTC)
So it was an English painter that had a flawed view of horses running, not the ancient Chinese. interesting.
I think this is about perception, not necessarily about truth. Christian Skeptic (talk) 13:59, 4 April 2009 (UTC)
You are absolutely right. Our problem is that we get things into our brains from our senses. Whewell tried to address this 170 years ago during his studies of the tides. He was able to identify the stream of information to the brain as
• Sensation
• Perception
• Reasoning (getting in the way of ...)
• Observation
But because of the "esemplastic nature of the imagination" (as Coleridge noted) somehow our brains rearrange what we see into what we believe (Our "lying eyes"). So it's currently all tied together. I have not seen a citable source for this, that's why it's not yet in the article.
The closest I have seen is in James' statement: sagacity; or the perception of the essence of things. Reference: William James (1890) The Principles of Psychology vol. II p. 343. Getting to an essence is still an art for the sagacious.
Back to the article: If you have thoughts about what you want in the article, please bring it up on the talk page so that we can incorporate the improvements you envision. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 17:20, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

## Singular or plural?

I strongly object to the recent move of this page from Scientific method to Scientific methods. That is a phrase with a completely different meaning. This article is (or at least tries to be) about the concept of the scientific method, not about a whole collection of methods. I have undone the move. Please discuss it here before doing it again. SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 09:18, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

I strongly object to leaving it singular. The singular version is non-factual as well as ungrammatical. Yes, the plural phrase has a completely different meaning, which is the point, because it brings the article incomparably closer to reality. There is no such thing as "the" scientific method ... never has been, and never will be. The reasons for renaming the page were discussed on the talk page last month, and no arguments to the contrary were contributed. If you want to discuss the arguments, discuss the arguments on the merits. Merely saying the article "is" such-and-such does not address the merits --Jsd 09:33, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

Apologies for not spotting the earlier discussion. On close reading, I see that the possibility of a change to the plural was hinted at (but never really brought out into the open, and certainly rather well hidden under a non-obvious heading!). Be that as it may... My argument for retaining the singular would be that although in fact there is arguably no such thing as the scientific method, just a collection of different methods, with different ones appropriate in different circumstances, there is an often-discussed notion (albeit a fantasy, an imaginary ideal, a meaningless concept, maybe) of "the scientific method" in the singular (see, for example (one picked at random from PubMed), PMID 19046906. I think this concept needs to be the subject of a WP article, and I had assumed that this was that article. However, if scientific method was a redirect to scientific methods, and if the article with the plural name prominently discussed the (in)validity of the singular concept, I could be persuaded! SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 10:30, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
See the Open world assumption, Defeasible reasoning, Non-monotonic logic etc. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 12:25, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
We agree that "the" scientific method is often discussed, but we also agree that it is a fallacy/fantasy. We should not let the lowest common denominator dictate to us. We should not let the inmates run the asylum.
Is the proposal that the Scientific methods (plural) article should have a section that addresses head-on the fallacy/fantasy of "the" scientific method? That sounds good to me!
Also, it appears that less than 50% of the existing article is devoted to hypothesis testing. I just now reorganized that to bring it together in one place. --Jsd 13:30, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

I object to the recent move of this page from Scientific method to Scientific methods. --Philogo (talk) 13:25, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

how about a compromise (that no one will like, maybe, but that's the nature of compromise): Scientific method(s). pays homage to the mostly defunct, but historical, singular usage, without committing to it completely. Either that, or use the plural version, with a prominent section discussing the singular use. --Ludwigs2 18:46, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
Who Role Usage Citation
Feynman Nobel laureate the scientific method Lectures on Physics p. I-2-1 ff
Peter Medawar Nobel laureate no such thing as the scientific method, rather there are scientific methods Limits of Science, p.51 ISBN 0-06-039036-0
Paul Feyerabend philosopher no scientific method (-- an ethical and political position against an existing establishment) Paul Feyerabend (1980) "How to defend society against science", in a talk given to the philosophy society, Sussex University, November 1974, as included in pages 55-65 Introductory Readings in the philosophy of science, ISBN 0-87975-134-7, Klemke, Hollinger and Kline, eds.)
William Whewell natural philosopher, historian of science "an effectual art of discovery" via induction -- disputed by John Stuart Mill 1911 Britannica
William Stanley Jevons economist, logician "Newton is the modern Archimedes and the Principia forms the true Novum Organum of scientific method" The Principles of Science: a treatise on logic and scientific method p. 581
Alhazen physicist, optiker, polymath "Truth is sought for its own sake ... God, however, has not preserved the scientist from error and has not safeguarded science from shortcomings and faults. If this had been the case, scientists would not have disagreed upon any point of science. ... A person who studies scientific books with a view to knowing the truth ought to turn himself into a hostile critic of everything that he studies. ... And ... he should also be suspicious of himself ... If he takes this course, the truth will be revealed to him. ... " Alhazen (Ibn Al-Haytham) Critique of Ptolemy, translated by S. Pines, Actes X Congrès internationale d'histoire des sciences, Vol I Ithaca 1962, as referenced in Sambursky (1974)p.139

Some data. 'The' is not doctrine. There are at least 3 stances. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 22:02, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

Fair enough. Data is always good. (I assume "stances" means "instances".)
I remark that when Feynman speaks of "the scientific method" he uses the term in quite an expansive sense. He is absolutely not referring to mere hypothesis testing. We must recognize the vast difference between his usage and the all-too-common usage where non-scientists refer to cut-and-dried step-by-step hypothesis testing as "the" scientific method. --Jsd 07:37, 9 April 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jsd (talkcontribs)
I wrote 'stance', not 'instance'. Three stances include
1. the scientific method: In this case, C. S. Peirce used the phrase, as noted in the article.
2. a scientific method: Peter Medawar's usage, to show that there can be several methods, perhaps simultaneous.
3. (no definite or indefinite article) scientific method: William Stanley Jevons' usage (as existed in the article before your latest edits).
--Ancheta Wis (talk) 10:30, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
You might wish to clean up your Medawar usage in the article. The text currently in the article, apparently from the table above, was a paraphrase. See the Medawar quotation on this talk page above, if you wish to use a literal quote. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 10:42, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
But note that Medawar also stood for stance #1 above. He used the scientific method in Induction and Intuition in Scientific Thought (1969) p. 59. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 11:02, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
Most people are going to look up "Scientific Method" rather than "Scientific Methods" even though the latter is more correct. I suggest that the first line of the article be modified to note that there is more than one method and then explain what they are. Christian Skeptic (talk) 12:34, 9 April 2009 (UTC)

## Now what?

Jsd, in light of your citation in the article I suggest that you re-read Wikipedia:Conflict of interest. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 12:52, 9 April 2009 (UTC)

To all editors: please post your comments and ideas for improvements to the article on this page. Contributions welcomed. Thank you. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 19:59, 9 April 2009 (UTC)

It should be possible to come up with proper citations for the newest contribution, specifically to fix the original research. For now, I propose that the tag remain on the article as fair warning to those who want to learn. It is clear that scientific method is for those with enquiring minds, who are willing to get beyond rote learning, and who are willing to endure mistakes. But I propose that somehow we disentangle the code words from the new content, to move the article to the next level.
One problem is the relationship of truth to method. The open world assumption frees us from the need to tie true statements to specific models. I do not believe this breaks new ground and propose that Peter Medawar's views be used here. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 09:40, 11 April 2009 (UTC)

Here is a start, from Edward Craig, "Scientific method" p. 945 The shorter Routledge encyclopedia of philosophy:

• "Whewell divided the methods of science into methods of observation, of obtaining clear ideas, and of induction".

Whewell is contradicted by John Stuart Mill, in what are commonly referred to as 'Mill's canons' or Mill's methods. Morris Cohen and Ernst Nagel (1934), Introduction to Logic and Scientific Method] pp 245-272

William Stanley Jevons, The Principles of Science enumerated 3 steps in scientific method (See the History of scientific method)

C. S. Peirce referred to "the scientific method". This is apparently the start of the custom of "the" when denoting scientific method. After Peirce, this became common usage and persists to this day.

Karl Popper sought a criterion to demarcate science, and while doing so, modelled science in cycles with two steps, 1) conjecture 2) attempted refutation (Peter Godfrey-Smith Theory and Reality p. 61)

Ludwik Fleck highlighted the process by which system becomes reality. (this paraphrases Ludwik Fleck, Genesis and development of a scientific fact) But Fleck was overshadowed by the simultaneous publication of Popper's Logic of scientific discovery

Peter Medawar observed that there could not be a single scientific method, because if there were, most scientists could then be sacked for malfeasance and for failure to produce discoveries on schedule, in cookie-cutter fashion. Therefore, there must be multiple methods, since scientists act in good faith. (paraphrase of Medawar, The Limits of Science p. 51)

Lee Smolin agrees with the view that there must be multiple methods, based on the current crisis in physics (this is a paraphrase of Lee Smolin, The trouble with physics).

--Ancheta Wis (talk) 13:38, 11 April 2009 (UTC)

Generally I'd say that if the singular can be used, use it in the title. One doesn't expect an article on Aristotle's categories to be called "Category (Aristotle)", so it's "Categories (Aristotle)"; he discussed ten of them in his book Categories. The article on mammals is called "Mammal"; the article on chordates is called "Chordate". If the article is really to be called "Scientific methods", it should list the kinds of methods, and discuss them in separately named sections. But if scientific methods are variations on a theme, and if that theme is the subject, then the common characteristics of the theme, and those characteristics which distinguish the theme from others, should receive central focus in discussion of its varieties.

Since you ask: Yes, the article really should be called Scientific Methods and yes, it really should have a representative list of methods, discussed in named sections. This is not hard to do; I have done it elsewhere, but whenever I try to do it here, my contributions are promptly reverted. Furthermore, no, scientific methods are not variations on a theme; in particular they are absolutely not variations on the hypothesis testing theme that is so wildly over-prevalent in this article.
The first word in the Mammal article defines the subject of the article. The subject is Mammals, plural. Similarly the second noun in the article is Mammalia which is the formal Latin for Mammals, plural. Similarly, whatever the title of this article, the subject should be Scientific methods, plural.
Pluralizing the title of this article is not particularly important; it is neither necessary nor sufficient for repairing the article. The main thing is the content of the article. The content is wildly unbalanced toward hypothesis testing. Over the years I have made several attempts to repair this, but my edits are promptly reverted without explanation.
Part of the problem is that highly opinionated non-scientists greatly outnumber actual scientists, and have more time on their hands. Scientists will never be able to win a revert war against hypothesis-testers who have only a third-hand impression of how science is actually done. So it appears that this non-scientific article is doomed to remain so. --- Jsd (talkcontribs) 19:27, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
That last sentence is comedy gold! ROTFL here. How many times have I said that the title of the article is not particularly important? How many times have I said that the content is what matters? If the title and the topic sentence reflect the wildly unbalanced content of the article, that's just rotten sauce on rotten meat. Changing the sauce won't help much.
Surely you don't mean to ask "why don't you simply add ...". Perhaps you meant to say "why don't you yet again add ...". I've done that on several occasions over the years, and my contributions are always promptly reverted. On 15 March 2009 Ancheta Wis said "Be Bold, if you have the time and expertise." Yet as soon as I implement any changes, even changes that met with complete consensus approval on the talk page, the changes get reverted by (you guessed it) Ancheta Wis. Not 50% of the changes, not 80% of the changes, but 100% of the changes. All at once, without explanation. Sure I've got the expertise, but I haven't got the time to wage a revert war.
Also: Facts do not fend for themselves. They never have and never will. Similarly, the tangible representation of a fact, in the form of a wikipedia contribution, cannot fend for itself either. It is defenseless in the face of someone who has strong opinions and way too much time on his hands. The facts of the matter are not hard to locate. If you care about the facts, and have time to wage the revert war, I encourage you to do so. Jsd 02:59, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
Well, I added facts about Peirce's views and let them fend for themselves rather than rewriting stuff in other sections to reflect a Peircean perspective. Of course that's easy for me since I don't fully agree with Peirce, while finding him remarkably informative even where I disagree with him. You talk about making "changes" rather than making additions - in particular, additions of material concerning methods that don't fit into the hypothesis-testing picture. Yet, and yet, I'll go back later and try to find the changes that you made. How many times have you said that the article title doesn't matter? Hardly ever. And, back on April 9, 2009 you were "strongly" objecting to its being in the singular. So I do not trust your rhetoric. Still, I will go back tomorrow and look at your reverted changes. The Tetrast (talk) 06:50, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

It may be that people are thinking a bit too much of procedures rather than methods. If the article were to get too far from characterizing methods in terms of their logic of discovery and (dis-)verification, then it would better be called "Scientific procedures", ways that you could employ without really understanding how they advance knowledge. The scientific method of pursuing truth is the one whose pursuit can go wrong by its own lights. How can the method of authority, for instance, go wrong by its own lights if authority is always right?
As for Feyerabend, he's been likened to the post-modernists, but now people are saying that he was post-modernist, which was news to me. Earlier I was complaining of post-modernists' often shabby approaches, not their viewpoints, so I wasn't thinking of Feyerabend; but I admit that I haven't read him. Starting from a view that there is no general logical approach to truth seems an unpromising start for a discussion that hopes to reach the truth. But scientific method is a quarrelsome subject, and more than once I've seen scientists accuse each other of understanding nothing about scientific method. The Tetrast (talk) 01:55, 12 April 2009 (UTC)

Oh, there's no need to quarrel about it. There are many very fine pianists who do not know much about the mechanics of how a piano works. Similarly there are many very fine pilots who do not know much about the fluid dynamics of how a wing works. That's OK; they are not being paid to design the thing, they are just being paid to operate it proficiently. By the same token there are many scientists who have mastered the methods appropriate to their own specialty, but who have never thought about the methods of other disciplines, let alone thought about the general case. This is not a problem, usually.
What a strange, unhistorical ad homimem. Do you really not know that Peirce (A) disagreed with you and held that scientific method includes as stages the generation of hypotheses, their analysis, and their testing and adjustment or rejection and (B) mastered the methods of many specialties and thought about the methods of still other disciplines? Again, I wonder why you use such dubious rhetoric instead of simply stating succinctly — even here in the talk page — some of the methods that do not fit into the hypothesis-testing picture.
It occasionally gets to be a problem when some narrow-minded crank presumes to speak for the entire community, and starts twisting the facts to support his or her unbalanced parochial view. Here's a report that illustrates what I'm talking about: hypothesis testing +- real science Jsd 02:59, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
In "Pragmatic model" I've changed

Every inquiry, whether into ideas, brute facts, or norms and laws, arises as a result of surprising observations in the given realm or realms, and the pondering of the phenomenon in all its aspects in the attempt to resolve the wonder.

into

Every inquiry, whether into ideas, brute facts, or norms and laws, arises as a result of surprising observations in the given realm or realms (for example at any stage of an inquiry already underway) and the pondering of the phenomenon in all its aspects in the attempt to resolve the wonder.

It's not a rewrite of the whole article but it's something, mentioning a point encompassed at least by the pragmatic model. The Tetrast (talk) 18:40, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

I have now read Jsd's reverted edits. They're a bit tendentious for a Wiki article, though that could have been smoothed. More to the point, they're kind of boiler-plate, like construction bid specs without measurements. What are the epochal discoveries not well-described by the hypothesis-testing picture? What are the methods which don't fit into the hypothesis-testing picture? If I were trying to place such assertions into the article, then I would not only provide sources, I would try to flesh it out a bit with an example or two (but still succinctly), and, at least in footnotes, provide quotes from the sources. Particularly convenient - though it isn't and shouldn't be a Wikipedia requirement - are links to reputable sources readable online (I don't mean an article link to the Wikipedia editor's own arguments elsewhere online, which is what Jsd did). Well, now an admin has asked for sources, so I guess I needn't pursue this aspect further for the time being.
I'm also beginning to suspect that Jsd thinks that "method" always means some rigid sort of procedure, algorithm, or technique. The reason that I suspect this is that almost all of Jsd's counterexamples at his site are eliminated by considering the method as the overall logical structure of the whole and its stages, rather than as a chronologically invariable uninterruptible procedure which never does do-overs, iterations, etc., never shoots buds of new inquiry, and never restarts old inquiry unexpectedly, and which has a typical rate per time.
So far, in looking around Jsd's site, I've found one possible counter-example that may stand up in some sense: "It is also common to conduct experiments with no clear hypotheses at all, just to explore the territory." However, the examples of this which he offers in a link are the examples which I've already discussed previously as his "counter-examples" - experiments conducted involving other hypotheses, and not of "no clear hypotheses at all." A famous example, however, is that of the first shots taken through the Hubble Telescope. (Actually, observations, not experiments, but the difference isn't relevant here.) The astronomers did have a guess or conjecture that they would see something unexpected, but that conjecture was not really a hypothetical explanation or a prediction derived from a hypothesis of anything in particular. This falls under the class of seeking for surprising observations, which is not logically essential to scientific method as such - it is sometimes essential or attractive (and rightly so) for a professional researcher, that is all. The Tetrast (talk) 20:56, 20 May 2009 (UTC).
I have to amend that which I said just above. "Exploring the territory" is not necessarily a search for surprising observations in particular, and in fact falls under the broadened version of Peirce's picture which I myself suggested - when one deals with an unfamiliar area of phenomena about which one isn't even sure about what expectations to form. In such a case there is, I suppose, a unclear welter of hypotheses undergoing a kind of initial selection, along with many an unlikely hypothesis easy to disconfirm but important if it beats disconfirmation (it's worth noting that ease of disconfirmation plus importance of an unlikely hypothesis's withstanding disconfirmatory tests is why unlikely hypotheses often get tested, and not only because "it does no harm" to test them, even though it's true that it does no harm to test them). Even I get tired of my own writing, so I'll stop here. The Tetrast (talk) 03:06, 21 May 2009 (UTC)

## Removed "disputed" tag

JSD - I am a Wikipedia administrator. I have removed your "disputed" tag because thus far you have not established to my satisfaction that such a dispute exists within the broader academic community (I fully respect that you personally dispute it).

I will gladly allow reinstatement of the tag if you can provide the following:

• Independent references which support the claims you outlined in Section 6 above.

Thus far you have argued your position quite passionately. However Wikipedia is not a forum for original research (see WP:NOR) and we rely on (I quote) "reliable sources that are directly related to the topic of the article, and that directly support the information as it is presented."

Once you are able demonstrate using independent references that such a dispute exists within the broader academic community then you will have my full endorsement of reinstating the "Disputed" tag. Manning (talk) 03:42, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Jsd, regarding your response to Manning, please provide an independent citation. i.e. The Medawar quote came from me. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 22:44, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
First, that's not what "independent" means in this context, and more importantly, the Medawar quote didn't come from you. It came from Medawar. It appears on page 51 of his book, The Limits of Science (Harper & Row, 1984). You do not own the quote.
FWIW Medawar expressed the same idea on other occasions, e.g. his article "The Cost-Benefit Analysis of Pure Research" (Hospital Practice, Sept 1973). You don't own that quote, either. Jsd 04:33, 3 June 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jsd (talkcontribs)
Jsd, the point is the research for which you are claiming your POV. When I added Medawar, it was easy to find the citation; the ease with which I found Medawar suggests there is more out there to back up your POV. Where is your independent research? All you have done is echo what I wrote, and there was more text in the quotation I found which you omitted, and which you conveniently ignore. If you were to think a little more about the additional text in the Medawar quote on page 51, you would see that the need for hypothesis testing logically follows. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 00:32, 4 June 2009 (UTC)
You ask "where is my independent research". Well, I've done quite a lot of research, but I don't mention it here, because OR is disallowed. I'm pretty sure that Manning was asking for documentation independent of my work, not work done independently by me. In any case, I will let Manning be the judge of what I am allowed to say to him.

## More documentation of the facts

NOTE: Jsd on June 3, 2009 has edited his own remarks made on May 29, 2009 below, but without leaving any indications of the edits, and has done so after responses were made to the remarks, and thus he has changed the seeming sense of the past discussion. I have taken some trouble to re-insert deleted May 29th text, clearly labeled as such, and to mark June 3rd insertions with clear labels. The Tetrast (talk) 21:08, 3 June 2009 (UTC).

(ORIGINAL MAY 29 2009 TEXT BY Jsd, DELETED BY Jsd JUNE 3, 2009.)
0) Let's be clear about the topic of discussion: We all agree that hypothesis testing exists. However, there are strong objections to the notion, as set forth in the article, that hypothesis testing is "the" one and only scientific method (or a prominent and indispensable part thereof).
END OF DELETED TEXT.

(THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPHS INSERTED BY Jsd ON JUNE 3, 2009.)
0) Let's be clear about the topic of discussion: The fundamental problem is an overly-narrow, formulaic definition of what science is.

One manifestation of this narrowness is an over-emphasis on hypothesis testing. We all agree that hypothesis testing exists. However, there are strong objections to the notion, as set forth in the article, that hypothesis testing is "the" one and only scientific method (or a prominent and indispensable part thereof).

Another manifestation is the over-emphasis on experiments (aka "operation"). It should be self-evident that many sciences, including astronomy, epidemiology, paleontology etc. are primarily observational sciences, not experimental sciences. They are not well described by the overly-narrow definitions set forth in the article.
(END OF FIRST SET OF PARAGRAPHS INSERTED BY Jsd ON JUNE 3, 2009.)

1) I really must object to the suggestion that I have not heretofore provided independent references.

What about the observation from Peter Medawar, The Limits of Science:

There is indeed no such thing as "the" scientific method. A scientist uses a very great variety of exploratory stratagems, ...

Is that not authoritative enough? According to his Oxford biography, Peter Medawar was "awarded virtually every honour known to the world of science."

Is Medawar's observation not on-point? Jsd (talkcontribs) 19:58, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

I think that the Medawar quote and others could fairly be counted in your favor except that, so far, all they say is that there is no one scientific method, and they might mean merely that there is no one sole scientific technique, procedure, algorithm, or script, which would be a completely uncontroversial statement. You need instead to show by references that scientists dispute the idea that hypothesis testing, or to put it more fairly, the hypothetical-deductive method, or, as Peirce would have called it, the hypothetical-deductive-inductive method, "is 'the' one and only scientific method (or a prominent and indispensable part thereof)" The Tetrast (talk) 00:50, 30 May 2009 (UTC).

I added that observation to the Scientific methods article, but it was promptly reverted without explanation.

2) Not every unsourced assertion is Original Research. If I assert that 3+4=7, the hope is that editors (well, almost all editors) would recognize it as factual, self-evident, and non-controversial.

As a more challenging example, I don't know everything about cheese, and I don't know everything about the moon, but I know enough to assert with confidence that the moon is not made of green cheese. Again, this is factual, non-controversial, and well supported by facts that everyone should know. It is not Original Research. It may not be easy to find a specific authoritative source to back up this assertion, but that is mostly because the facts are so well known that no authority would stoop to discussing them.

Taking another step down that road, I assert that Karl Jansky took data for over a year before formulating (let alone testing) the hypothesis that there could be extraterrestrial radio sources. I do not recommend or expect that people take this assertion (or any other) on faith, but I would expect that people would at least consider the possibility that it is true, and check some references (such as the Jansky article) before reverting my assertion.

Building on this verifiable fact, I consider it self-evident and non-controversial that "hypothesis testing" did not serve as a method to guide the first year of data taking.

This point is self-evident, yes. Original Research, no.

I previously provided a list of epochal discoveries and other activities that are not well described as hypothesis testing: Jsd (talkcontribs) 19:58, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

I responded to that at some length in the "Now what?" section. Most of your examples do not clearly fail to fit into the usual hypothetical-deductive account, and most of them do fit into Peirce's account, wherein inquiry begins with surprising observations. Surprising and epochal observations are not considered an aim of hypothesis-testing. The aim of hypothesis testing is to support or disconfirm a hypothesis. The Tetrast (talk) 00:50, 30 May 2009 (UTC).

3) Here's another citation that I previously provided. It is a report from a highly experienced professor and researcher.

The report is diffident and anecdotal with respect to some unimportant details (such as the exact origin of the dispute), but it is absolutely clear on the important point, namely that overemphasis on hypothesis testing is pernicious, and has been recognized as such for decades. Jsd (talkcontribs) 19:58, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

When I read it, it appeared to me that the main objection was against a student's having to conduct a whole "cycle" of observation, hypothesis, prediction, test, etc., when in real life there's much more division of scientific labor. The Tetrast (talk) 00:50, 30 May 2009 (UTC).

Additional weight accrues to this report from the fact that it was made in front of a forum of hundreds of physicists, none of whom saw fit to dispute it. Sherlock Holmes wisely took note of the dog that did not bark in the night.

I emphasize yet again that there is a place for hypothesis testing.

The problem is that non-experts tend to grossly exaggerate the importance of hypothesis testing, at the expense of exploration, serendipity, theoretical calculation, and innumerable other things that are not well described as hypothesis testing. This gives a seriously false impression of what science is and how science is done. This is particularly pernicious in connection with the conduct and scoring of science fair projects. Jsd (talkcontribs) 19:58, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

An odd and ahistorical ad hominem. Was Peirce - a founder of statistics and accomplished in mathematics, logic, philosophy, and several sciences - a non-expert grossly exaggerating the importance of the hypothetical-deductive-inductive method?
Serendipity is not a method. How one takes advantage of serendipity, is a method. Theoretical calculation can be considered as a tool in various stages of the method as an overall logical structure. The hypothesis must be analyzed, clarified, its implications deduced, etc. Plenty of theoretical calculation gets done there, for instance. You seem to assume that the overall picture of scientific method fails to accommodate these things, rather than showing that it fails to accommodate them, or finding sources who say that these things are, as you make clear that you claim, not accommodated by the picture of science as forming hypotheses to explain surprising observations, analyzing the hypotheses and deducing consequences from them, and proceeding with testing (which Peirce calls the inductive stage). This applies also to what you say below about mathematical methods - where Peirce was a pioneer, see for instance Mathematical psychology#History. The Tetrast (talk) 00:50, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

Those who equate hypothesis testing with "the" scientific method are seen as pedantic and sophomoric, by which in this context means lacking in depth of understanding, lacking in breadth of experience, tending to mistake the easy case for the general case, and all the while acting in bold, arrogant ignorance of their own fallibility. Jsd (talkcontribs) 19:58, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

You undermine yourself with such counter-historical ad hominem rhetoric. The Tetrast (talk) 00:50, 30 May 2009 (UTC).

4) There are dozens of books on the subject of "Mathematical Methods of Physics". Here's a partial list: Mathematical physics.

Are these methods not methods? Is theoretical physics not science? Why should these not count as scientific methods? Jsd (talkcontribs) 19:58, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

Why do you think that they don't fit into the overall picture of scientific method? The Tetrast (talk) 00:50, 30 May 2009 (UTC).

Is not the existence of these books sufficient to document the fact that we have a vast number of disparate methods at our disposal? Jsd (talkcontribs) 19:58, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

I think that you are unaware of the broader sense of method as involving a logical structure. You seem to think that "method" always means a rigid recipe. The Tetrast (talk) 00:50, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

Does anyone want to claim that these methods all revolve around hypothesis testing? I hope not. I just flipped through my copy of Matthews & Walker, and I doubt that the word "hypothesis" occurs even once in the book. Certainly it is not central.

Similar remarks apply in the experimental arena. I just flipped through my copy of Lounasmaa Experimental Principles and Methods below 1K.

Are these not methods? Is this not science? Why should these not count as scientific methods?

I doubt that the word "hypothesis" occurs even once in the book. Certainly it is not central.

Ditto for Acton, Numerical Methods that Work.

Are these methods not methods? Is computer science not science? Why should these not count as scientific methods?

5) Here's a nice quote from Thomas S Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions:

Normal science does not aim at novelties of fact or theory and, when successful, finds none. New and unsuspected phenomena are, however, repeatedly uncovered by scientific research, and radical new theories have again and again been invented by scientists.

It is important to appreciate the high degree of contrast there. The Scientific methods article as it stands utterly fails to address this contrast. Jsd (talkcontribs) 19:58, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

To the contrary, it's covered in the "Pragmatic model" section. In that model, all inquiry begins with surprising observations, and the end is to gain understanding that stands up to testing. Obviously the end of gaining understanding that stands up to testing is not the same as an end of novelties of fact and theory. And I've gone over this already here on the talk page, at least twice now. The Tetrast (talk) 00:50, 30 May 2009 (UTC).

One of the main points of the whole book is that there are two highly contrasting kinds of science. Patterns and traditions (such as hypothesis testing) that apply to mature, non-research scientific activities do not apply to cutting-edge research, which is undertaken with the intent and expectation that the results will be too radical to make contact, pro or con, with any pre-existing hypotheses. Jsd (talkcontribs) 19:58, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

The book could be somewhat right about the existence of those two contrasting kinds (I really, really doubt that hypothesis-testing is, as you put it, a mark of non-research science). Yet there is nothing to suggest that observations be conducted only for the sake of pre-existing hypotheses, when inquiry is said to begin with surprising observations. Nevertheless, as I've already said, this question of "exploring the territory" is where you might have a point that stands up in some sense as criticism to Peirce's theory. But it doesn't stand up to scientific method as presented in the article. The article talks about an initial stage of observations, measurements, etc., purposely conducted as preparatory and prior to hypothesis-formation. That initial stage could be that of cutting-edge research. The Tetrast (talk) 00:59, 30 May 2009 (UTC) Edited The Tetrast (talk) 01:04, 30 May 2009 (UTC).

(THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPHS INSERTED BY Jsd IN A FEW EDITS ON JUNE 3, 2009. I INDENT THEM NOW TO REDUCE CONFUSION.)

A secondary but still important point in Kuhn's book is that ordinary science texts present a false picture of the history of science. The real history involves much back-tracking out of dead ends and blind alleys. In contrast, the textbooks tell a story of scientific "progress" that is tidy, monotone, simple, and logical ... but fundamentally incompatible with the historical facts. This story is disrespectful to scientists past and present, and does a disservice to students, because it makes scientific work seem incomparably easier than it really is. As a related point, reducing scientific work to a single four- or five-step "method" is another way of making scientific work seem incomparably easier than it really is.
Here is an even clearer statement of the fundamental problem. This is from Richard Feynman's address "What is Science" presented at the fifteenth annual meeting of the National Science Teachers Association, 1966. Published in The Physics Teacher 7, 6, pp. 313--320 (1968).
• What is science? Of course you all must know, if you teach it. That's common sense. What can I say? If you don't know, every teacher's edition of every textbook gives a complete discussion of the subject. There is some kind of distorted distillation and watered-down and mixed-up words of Francis Bacon from some centuries ago, words which then were supposed to be the deep philosophy of science. But one of the greatest experimental scientists of the time who was really doing something, William Harvey, said that what Bacon said science was, was the science that a lord-chancellor would do. He [Bacon] spoke of making observations, but omitted the vital factor of judgment about what to observe and what to pay attention to.
• And so what science is, is not what the philosophers have said it is, and certainly not what the teacher editions say it is.
All in all, the Scientific methods article is just what Feynman warned us about: a bunch of non-scientists trying to tell scientists what science is, and how to do science. So, Sir Manning, when Feynman says science "is not what the philosophers have said it is, and certainly not what the teacher editions say it is" ... is that not by itself sufficient evidence of a dispute? When Medawar says repeatedly that there is no such thing as "the" scientific method, is that not by itself sufficient evidence that an article about "the" scientific method is in deep trouble?
Whom should we trust? Medawar and Feynman, or 1000 high-school biology texts? It seems self-evident that Medawar and Feynman knew what they were talking about.
(END OF THIS SET OF PARAGRAPHS INSERTED BY Jsd ON JUNE 3, 2009)

In the discussion above, Tetrast suggested that epochal discoveries could be coerced into the category of hypothesis testing, if we imagine that the experimenters were simply testing the "wrong" hypotheses. Alas this trivializes the notion of hypothesis testing. At this point it is no longer a method, certainly not a method of any value to the researcher who is doing the work. There is no advantage to a wildly wrong hypothesis; one could equally well proceed with a trivial facetious hypothesis, or (better) with no hypothesis at all (which is what researchers commonly do). Jsd (talkcontribs) 19:58, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

No, I'm saying, yet again, that if the account of scientific method says that inquiry begins with a surprising observation, then obviously that's before any hypothesis is formed in order to explain that surprising observation. No hypothesis testing need be underway at the time of the surprising observation. You keep putting the cart in front of the horse. The Tetrast (talk) 00:50, 30 May 2009 (UTC).

To summarize: We have independent verification (Medawar) that there is no such thing as "the" scientific method. We have independent verification (Feynman and Kuhn) that non-experts are grievously misinformed. We have independent verification (Kuhn) that different scientific activities play by different rules. We have independent verification (Edmiston) that over-emphasis on hypothesis testing is pernicious and the community has recognized it as such for many years. We have numerous books whose titles (and contents!) document the multiplicity of scientific methods. We have a list of epochal scientific discoveries and other activities that are not well described in terms of hypothesis testing. Jsd (talkcontribs) 19:58, 29 May 2009 (UTC) (WORDS "We have independent verification (Feynman and Kuhn) that non-experts are grievously misinformed." AND "and Kuhn" AND "and other activities" INSERTED BY Jsd JUNE 3, 2009.

No, instead you've pointed to verification that Medawar thinks that there is no one "method" to do science but we don't yet know what he means by "method". Does he mean a narrow procedure, a rigid script? We do not have any verification that Medawar thinks, as you do, that process of hypothesis, deduction, and testing, is not a "prominent and indispensable part" of scientific method. You've brought verification that there are some pedagogical debates - arising especially between older biologists and younger biologists, according to the thread to which you link - in science fairs, over whether a student's exhibition should cover a whole cycle of observation, hypothesis, prediction, test, or whether it's just as educational not to ask such, since in real life there's more division of scientific labor than that. You have books that document the multiplicity of scientific procedures and we don't have evidence that these books contest the basic hypothesis, deduction, testing picture. Your list of epochal scientific discoveries are well described in terms of hypothesis testing - most of them are the surprising observations which lead to hypothesis-formation. The Tetrast (talk) 00:50, 30 May 2009 (UTC).

There's a lot more that could be said, but I hope this is sufficient to make the point:

We all agree that hypothesis testing exists. However, there are strong objections to the notion, as set forth in the article, that hypothesis testing is "the" one and only scientific method (or a prominent and indispensable part thereof). Jsd (talkcontribs) 19:58, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

Ah, the old "isn't-mathematical-physics-a-legitimate-science?" conundrum. Yes, it's a fair point I suppose. At some point, though, in order to be regarded as empirical science, the theories and hypotheses of a theoretical physicist need to be testable and replicable vis a vis the actual phenomena they posit. Mathematical physics is on the border between empirical science and formal science. Perhaps the formal sciences including statistics deserve a bit more "credit" in this WP article than they currently get. But the bottom line is that every proposed hypothesis or theory, including proposed mathematical models for empirical phenomena, needs be fully disclosed so it can be tested, whether empirically or axiomatically, or both. This basic aspect of scientific method is reasonably summed up by referring to the process as "hypothesis-testing". While we can always quibble, and often do quibble about this article or any other summary of scientific method, to me the current form of the article quite reasonably represents this basic aspect of scientific method--normally involving cycles of observation, hypothesis, testing, publication, replication, "rinse and repeat". This is the stock-in-trade of science, the heavy lifting without which we're left with only rampant speculation where the rubber never meets the road, so to speak. As well, to me the article as presently written reasonably represents to the reader that there are a variety of strategies a scientist might bring to bear in the process.
..... As to Karl Jansky, he certainly holds an esteemed place in the annals of science. If we go to the Wikipedia article at Scientific_method#Elements_of_scientific_method, the section in which the article gets right down to "brass tacks", we note that in the first and third callout boxes the word "observation" is right up front near the beginning of the presented schemas. Having observed for about a year, Jansky along the way proposed several hypotheses for the noise and steady-state hiss recorded by his instrument of observation. He proceeded to test his hypotheses, confirming two and refuting one. He then replaced his incorrect hypothesis about the steady-state noise being correlated with the relative position of the Sun with a new hypothesis that the steady-state "hiss" originated outside our solar system. Then he published his summary data and findings, keeping his lab notes in the tradition of a diligent scientist. Jansky's hypotheses have since been tested and confirmed repeatedly by others. Offhand, all this seems completely consistent with the present form of the Wikipedia article.
..... As to whether "scientific method" is properly a mass noun (leading to the singular term "scientific method" without the "the" in front), or a countable noun leading to a plural term like "scientific methods", it is a reasonable question. The consensus in the scientific community in recent years appears to have settled more on the former than on the latter (with some exceptions of course). More importantly, the consensus of WP participants in this article to date has been heavily in favor of the use of the mass noun, defining it as a "body of techniques" with variations from field to field and a set of core principles in common. This approach is entirely consistent, for example, with the approach taken by Hugh Gauch in Scientific Method in Practice. ... Kenosis (talk) 00:23, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

NOTA BENE: I've taken the liberty of inserting extra signatures for Jsd where The Tetrast has interjected comments into Jsd's prior submission (rather than remove them outright) so it's at least clear who said what. Please do not break up others' prior comments with such later insertions. The talk-page convention is to copy and paste the part of comments to which one is referring, placing the responsive comments below the other users' signature; or alternately, where they're numbered, as above, to respond to the points by identifying the responses as, e.g., "in response to Point #1", but never to interject in the middle of a prior signed comment Thanks. ... Kenosis (talk) 01:04, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

Sorry, I had no idea of such a convention. I thought it was okay as long as I indented and signed my own comments. The Tetrast (talk) 01:22, 30 May 2009 (UTC).
Super. With that issue clear, it'll make for easier reading by others in the future. ;-) I hope Jsd is OK with my improvised approach here. ... Kenosis (talk) 01:26, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
I hope he's okay with it. He interposed comments among mine in a previous section (not that I objected). I occurs to me that a problem with such interpositions is that it seems to make it difficult for a third person to get involved. The Tetrast (talk) 01:38, 30 May 2009 (UTC).

Now I'm following up on some comments made by Jsd and putting them together. Jsd quotes Kuhn that normal science does not aim for novelties of fact and theory. Yet the account of the hypothetical-deductive method makes no claim that such novelties are the goal or a primary goal or pursued end-state of science, and Peirce's model has all inquiry beginning, not ending, with surprising (or epochal) observations. Jsd argues as though a hypothetical-deductive picture must treat surprising observations as the cultivated fruit of tests of a hypothesis, though he gives no reason and quotes no source for this strange restriction; he simply refers to "hypothesis testing" as if it were the whole of the hypothetical-deductive method; initially one thinks that he uses the phrase merely for convenience, but apparently instead he really does mean to reduce the hypothetical-deductive method to the testing stage, and that is a mistake. Now, since those surprising observations, chronologically, can't be made in the course of testing a hypothesis formed only subsequently in order to account for them, Jsd wrongly infers that the hypothetical-deductive or "hypothesis-testing" account must resort to saying that the surprises happened in the course of observations conducted to test "the wrong hypothesis" since the observations were made in order to test an earlier and possibly quite unrelated hypothesis. It's as if he thinks that the hypothetical-deductive account trips up on a time paradox, compelled to regard surprising observations as the sought result of the very hypotheses resulting from them and, since that's out of the question, to regard them as the sought result of tests of an earlier and possibly unrelated hypothesis (the "wrong hypothesis"). But, to the contrary, the hypothetical-deductive account does not require the surprising observations to be results, sought or unsought, of any hypothesis testing or to occur in any direct connection to the course of any hypothesis testing at all. Instead, it allows of their occurrence in the course of testing an earlier hypothesis. Hypothesis testing is - unsurprisingly - a fertile field for surprising observations recognized and usefully recorded, since it is a field of careful observation by people often trained for it and up to speed on a variety of theoretical expectations. A surprising observation during hypothesis testing is a bud of a new inquiry with new hypotheses or revival of some old inquiry, and it may or may not affect the inquiry which occasioned it, depending on its pertinence to that inquiry - it may modify or wholly alter that inquiry's course, or it may merely be noted in passing, such that somebody else might pick up on it and do something with it. The Tetrast (talk) 17:00, 30 May 2009 (UTC). Edited The Tetrast (talk) 17:44, 30 May 2009 (UTC).

## Some perspective

NOTE: The two quotes ascribed to me below are not from me. The Tetrast (talk) 21:09, 3 June 2009 (UTC).

I offer my deepest apologies for the misattribution.Jsd 16:46, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

Tetrast wrote in part:

• ... in which the article gets right down to "brass tacks", we note that in the first and third callout boxes the word "observation" is right up front near the beginning of the presented schemas.

By way of analogy, consider a lawyer's closing argument. If the lawyer is skillful, every word and every sentence in the argument will be true. However, the argument as a whole is profoundly unbalanced. It systematically and intentionally emphasizes only one side of the story.

By the same token: Nobody is claiming that every word of the Scientific methods article is false. The problem is that the article is UNBALANCED. Given the great length of the article, it is not surprising that perfectly true sentences can be found here and there. However, most of the accurate passages are contradicted by other passages that are inaccurate and/or wildly UNBALANCED.

At the start of that same paragraph Tetrast wrote:

• Ah, the old "isn't-mathematical-physics-a-legitimate-science?" conundrum.

This is the epitome of the whole argument. Let's start by putting some facts on the table: If you ask any sane person to name the most prominent scientist of the 20th century, in all likelihood they will name Albert Einstein. He was the Time magazine "Man of the Century" after all. And he was a theoretical physicist. That's right: he was a scientist and a theoretical physicist. There is no conundrum here.

Yet believe it or not, on this Talk page we find an argument that calls into question whether theoretical physics is a science! In addition to being yet another example of non-scientists trying to tell scientists what science is, it is just plain crazy. When an argument starts this way, it must be instantly rejected. No sane person would trust the conclusions of such an argument.

It is painfully clear where this argument is coming from. It starts by hypothesizing a very narrow model of what science is. Now since the facts do not fit this model, there are two options, either to discard the hypothesis or to discard the facts. Here we have a classic demonstration of what happens when zealots become too attached to a hypothesis: they promote the hypothesis to an assumption, and they would rather discard the facts than question the original hypothesis.

It is quite ironic when the argument in favor of hypothesis testing is based on testing a hypothesis incorrectly.

Thirdly I would call attention to the "Models of scientific inquiry" section within the Scientific methods article. If the "Classical model" and the "Pragmatic model" are not scientific methods, these sections don't belong in the article. If on the other hand they are scientific methods, these sections CONTRADICT the main part of the article. This by itself should be sufficient to demonstrate that this article, which purports to be factual, is not actually factual.Jsd 07:56, 3 June 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jsd (talkcontribs)

Actually, it was me who wrote several of those passages just noted above, not The Tetrast. And, I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek with the statement about "the old 'isn't-mathematical-physics-a-legitimate-science?' conundrum". I was referring to the part of theoretical physics, or mathematical physics, that dwells in the likes of string theory, certain kinds of cosmological speculation, and such. Recall that Einstein's relativity breakthrough was tested and its predictions confirmed, e.g. here. Bottom line, as I said, is that at some point it needs to be testable to reasonably be termed science, all of which can be summed up with the shorthand phrase "hypothesis-testing" or other close variations thereof. For at least the last couple years the article has reasonably represented this and other aspects of scientific method, in a balanced, unbiased way. Admittedly it's a difficult topic to sum up even in a lengthy book, let alone an encyclopedia-length article.
..... But I sense this discussion is presently going nowhere that's very productive for the article, so maybe I'll just bow out at this point. ... Kenosis (talk) 15:33, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
I'm getting bored too. I think I made some good arguments to Jsd but I'm getting no response. The Tetrast (talk) 21:13, 3 June 2009 (UTC).

No response? Hmmm. There seems to be a lot of that going around. It's been ten days since I responded to Manning's request, but I haven't heard back from him. Maybe he's busy.

As for good arguments, if I saw a good argument I would respond to it. Most of what I've seen are bad arguments, I daresay unscientific arguments. For example, when a serendipitous observation is called an "observation", that is considered part of "the" scientific method ... but when the same serendipitous observation is called "serendipity", that is considered "not a method" at all. This is beyond circular logic; it is pretzel logic. I can't tell what is intentional tongue-in-cheekiness and what is unintentional self-parody.

For years, this article has been an example of non-scientists trying to tell scientists what to do. For years this article has been wildly unbalanced. For years, the article has been self-contradictory. For years, attempts to inject some balance and consistency have been promptly reverted.

You dispute Medawar. You dispute Feynman. You dispute Kuhn. You dispute present-day practicing scientists. And then you tell me no dispute exists. Sorry, I've got better things to do than engage in this kind of argument. Jsd 14:54, 8 June 2009 (UTC) Jsd (talk

It's not clear that I dispute anybody but you. You have not provided evidence that you speak for the views of any of those people.
So far, you've provided no evidence that Medawar, Feynman, or Kuhn agree with you that the observation, hypothesis, prediction, testing method is not basic in science. Obviously Kuhn doesn't think that it's always decisive in science, when he holds that generational paradigm shift plays such a big role (but generational paradigm shift is not a method). You have merely statements that there are many "methods" in science. The statements may refer to little more than that there are manifold procedures in science, a completely uncontroversial view when by "method" or "procedure" one may mean anything, from the broad methods of logical structuring described in the article, to narrow procedures, scripts, and recipes such as changing a battery, summing a few integers, asking questions of volunteer test subjects, or making spaghetti for a food-tasting experiment.
You have claimed, mysteriously, that the article says or implies that all observations must occur in the course of testing a hypothesis and, in particular, of testing the very hypotheses formed to explain those observations, which is so obviously a strawman depiction of the method that you should have asked yourself whether you were understanding the opposing view correctly; I certainly wondered whether I was getting your criticism correctly - could you really have set up such a strawman? Was I in fact making a strawman of you? But, reading carefully what you wrote, I couldn't find another conclusion to draw - you really ascribed an absurd time paradox to that which you call the "hypothesis testing" account. You have not defended the claim in the face of criticism, and seem to have abandoned it. But it was a significant basis in your argument, since without it most of your proffered examples of epochal discoveries "not well described" by the methods outlined in the article don't apply. (Preceding paragraph further edited The Tetrast (talk) 16:50, 8 June 2009 (UTC).)
You have not responded to that and the other rather obvious points that I've made, points which you yourself should have thought of and addressed. I am surprised that you have left your arguments in such a rudimentary form. I am left thinking that surely there must be better arguments for your viewpoint than you yourself made. It is like your claim at your Website that unlikely or "impossible" (as you put it) hypotheses get tested because it does no harm to test them. There's truth in that statement as far as it goes yet there are plainly a further important reason or two that they get tested, such that otherwise they would be tested rather lest often, but you don't mention those reasons, though they're easy to see once they're pointed out and do illuminate the kind of thinking involved in deciding on experiments.
I hadn't quite expected to win this argument, much less to win it decisively. Maybe my claiming to have done so will spur somebody to respond more effectively in your stead, and that would be welcome development, since I can't help thinking that there must be better arguments for your viewpoint than you have made. I figured that you would turn out to be right on some important points, I wasn't sure which ones. Instead, you keep undermining yourself by not responding to arguments and by mere rhetoric instead, mounting ad hominem attacks and implying, that you speak for scientists generally and that everybody here and elsewhere including C. S. Peirce who disagrees with you is naive and simply doesn't understand about science. Now, when it comes to credentials, C. S. Peirce beats many a perfectly respectable scientist like a full house beats two of a kind. So maybe you should prefer to go easy on the credentials-based argument (one which Peirce for example seldom if ever invoked in his own favor). A little more logic from you might go a long way. The Tetrast (talk) 16:32, 8 June 2009 (UTC).
I've had a chance to quickly review Jsd's position of advocacy w.r.t. the article by checking the actual edits (s)he made to the article, since that's where the "rubber meets the road".
..... Let me first note that I well understand this is a topic that is difficult to briefly summarize in a way that would both tend to ring true to scientists and also be helpful to readers without a scientific background. However, IMO, Jsd's series of edits (e.g. here, the whole series reverted by Ancheta Wis here) was not an improvement, but rather a diminution of the quality of the article, The consensus of editors in this article as to the article lead has followed, e.g., Hugh Gauch and others with a similar perspective in introducing the topic to WP readers, cited to multiple reliable sources throughout the article, which represents more-or-less the dominant perspective today among scientists and philosophers of science. This perspective defines scientific method (or if you prefer, "a " scientific method) as a body of techniques that is identifiably different from other methods of inquiry and analysis, with a set of core principles, and with variations from field to field that do not negate the core principles shared in common by scientific fields. This basic perspective can be seen in the form of a diagram presented at page 2 of Gauch's Scientific Method in Practice (2003), easily viewable in the book preview made available by Amazon. Of course there are critics of this view, some of whom are already mentioned in the WP article after introducing some admittedly complicated basics to the reader.
.... As to all this stir above and in Jsd's edits of the article about hypothesis testing, which Jsd appears to argue is not generally accepted as a universal basic tenet of scientific method, frankly it's a red herring, and Jsd's edits to the article were just-plain-wrong about this issue. Every method that can reasonably be characterized as a scientific method involves testing of hypotheses and theories, which is part of what makes it scientific. This of course doesn't make science perfect, nor does it make all approaches to hypothesis testing identical, but the emphasis on hypothesis testing is a primary feature that distinguishes scientific inquiry from many other forms of inquiry. For example, this rendition by Jsd of the function of hypothesis testing in the scheme of "science", cited to Jsd's own work here, is flat-out incorrect and contradicts the reliable sources on the issue. And anyway, this was original research, which is prohibited in Wikipedia.
..... There are several other examples of outright errors in Jsd's edits, but I've not adequate time to analyze every one of them here. Bottom line: Jsd's positions, as evidenced by his/her edits to the article itself, generally reflect neither the reliable sources on the topic nor the consensus of participating editors in this article.

## Still no reason for a change

JSD - you seem to be missing the point entirely. For starters I am weighing in on the "name change" dispute and not your extensive arguments about "hypothesis" testing (although I tend to agree with the other editors on that point as well).

The issue here is simply "What is the common or general name for this topic?", not "what should it be?". The issue here is similar to the terribly misnamed Fermat's Last Theorem (which was neither "last" nor a "theorem").

I have no issue with the article noting that a handful of scientists have challenged the value of the term. I also think there is great benefit in addressing the weaknesses of the term and the incorrect assumptions that the singular "Method" term might bring about.

But to change the name of the page and to accept the "disputed" tag which you placed, I need to see is clear evidence that there is a wide-ranging dispute about the name. I still see absolutely no evidence of this wide-ranging dispute.

My own research indicates that the vast majority of the scientific community and the general public refer to this topic as "The Scientific Method" in singular form. The research of the other WP editors seems to be consistent with my view. So in this sense Wikipedia is being entirely "factual". As with the naming of "Fermat's Last Theorem", Wikipedia policy is to reflect general usage. Manning (talk) 02:59, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

Sir Manning: You say I am "seem to be missing the point entirely. For starters I am weighing in on the "name change" dispute and not ...."
Well, if "name change" is the point, then perhaps I should explain why I missed the point. Back on 20 May 2009 you removed the "disputed" tag and requested more information about the dispute. At no point (until just now) did you mention "name change" or anything about the name or title of the article. So perhaps I can be forgiven for not knowing that "name change" had anything to do with "the point" you were making. Since I consider the name of the article to be of secondary or tertiary significance, and at most tangentially connected to the real dispute, I saw no reason to say anything about "name change".
Let's be clear: I played by the rules. I used the Talk page to explain why I thought a name change would be a small step along the long road toward making the article more grammatical and more factual. I let the explanation sit there for weeks, and got zero pushback. At that point I concluded there was consensus on this point, and I made one attempt to change the name. It was promptly reverted, and then I started getting pushback. At this point, in the light of new facts, I came to a new conclusion, namely that changing the name would not be a good place to start. Again, let's be clear: Whatever dispute there might have been about the name was resolved very quickly, resolved in favor of leaving the name the same. This dispute, if indeed it ever rose to the level of 'dispute', was of very low importance, and certainly no longer exists. The "disputed" tag was added much later, for reasons having nothing to do with the name of the article.
If the "disputed" tag was removed for reasons having to do with the name of the article, somebody is missing the point of the tag.
Constructive suggestion: next time, if "name change" is the point you want to make, please mention "name change" or words to that effect.
Even better suggestion: If you think the name should not be changed, I will cheerfully agree not to change the name. No problem. Really no problem. You don't want a name change, and I don't even want to talk about name change, so we are in agreement on this point. There is nothing to discuss. In return, I ask you to recognize the point I am making by means of the "disputed" tag, namely the dispute about the content (not name) of the article. I ask you to recognize the voluminous authoritative evidence that there is a dispute.
Please ask your scientist friends if they disagree with Medawar when he says "there is no such thing as 'the' scientific method."
Please ask your scientist friends whether the books on "Experimental Methods of Physics" and "Mathematical Methods of Physics" do in fact describe methods, and whether these are scientific methods, and whether these methods can be reconciled with "the" scientific method as described in this wikipedia article.
Please ask your scientist friends whether a theoretical physicist is a scientist, and whether his methods are "scientific methods", and whether his methods can be reconciled with "the" scientific method as described in this wikipedia article.
Peirce ...... Kuhn ..... Beller ..... Edmiston ...... et cetera ................
I am glad you brought up the analogy to Fermat's Last Theorem. Please let us pursue the analogy to its logical conclusion. FWIW, Fermat's Last Theorem *is* now a theorem, although it is not Fermat's. And more to the point, its name is a harmless joke. It remains harmless because every article on the subject starts with a disclaimer, explaining Fermat's contributions and non-contributions to the subject. In stark contrast, there is voluminous evidence that equating hypothesis testing with "the" scientific method has led to widespread pernicious misconceptions. To correct this problem, by analogy to Fermat's Last Theorem, the article on "the" scientific method should start with a disclaimer, making it absolutely clear that scientists use many methods. I accept your analogy, and take it seriously. I beseech you to take it seriously also. Jsd (talkcontribs) 00:02, 28 June 2009 (UTC)
I have to admit that I'm getting pretty bored with this. You abandon your arguments in the face of specific criticisms and resort to repeating your assertions. Still, on re-reading the article's first paragraph, I see that, at one point, it makes it sound as if every scientific method has to be the whole scientific method at the broad level, the level of the overall rationale. That sort of thing takes only a judicious bit of rewording, not a massive and badly argued attack against the idea of observation-hypothesis-prediction-testing as the overall method. How about this for a revision of the first paragraph:
Scientific method refers to bodies of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.[1] At a broad level, scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.[2] Many particular methods are developed (or adapted), tested, and employed in the process. Scientific methods are reproducible and liable to criticism and correction through further application of such methods.[3]
1. ^ "[4] Rules for the study of natural philosophy", Newton 1999, pp. 794-6, from the General Scholium, which follows Book 3, The System of the World.
2. ^ scientific method, Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
3. ^ Peirce, C. S. (1877), "The Fixation of Belief", Popular Science Monthly, vol. 12, pp. 1–15.
The Tetrast (talk) 00:52, 30 June 2009 (UTC) Note: The footnotes are there within my proposed revision, but rather than inserting a references section into this talk page in order to make them appear, I've also separately presented them with the look of footnotes. The Tetrast (talk) 01:02, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Tetrast, perhaps the last two sentences might also be worded "Many particular methods can be further developed (or adapted), tested, and employed in the process of investigation. These methods could then applied when settling opinions, reproducing results, answering criticisms, or correcting any statements about the subject under investigation.$^{{[3]}}$". (The "$^{{[3]}}$" is meant as a placeholder for the Peirce citation.)
Manning, it is wonderful that you are still devoted to the article; eight years of service to the article! Wow. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 03:50, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
My thought was to follow up the mention of many particular methods with some common character of what makes them scientific - the generally replicable and self-critical/self-correcting character of scientific method of inquiry, hence the Peirce reference. How about this:
Many particular methods or procedures are developed, adapted, tested, improved, and corrected in the process of investigation. Scientific method and procedures are generally meant, just like scientific results, to be repeatable or replicable by different investigators and are meant, just like scientific opinions, to face hurdles of criticism and correction through further application of scientific method.$^{{[3]}}$
But if you don't want to go in that direction then maybe it's just the wrong direction, too wordy or full of qualifications or something. The Tetrast (talk) 03:10, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
Tetrast, I believe we all want for the article to go forward. Say, perhaps in methods which illustrate Intersubjective verifiability. e.g.:
--Ancheta Wis (talk) 14:46, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
I was talking about the direction of a sentence or two, not of the whole article. The Tetrast (talk) 16:28, 2 July 2009 (UTC).

I've added the following to the "introduction section". Faro0485 (talk) 02:09, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

## request for unprotection and/or editprotected

1. there are little DNA icons used as bullets inconsistent with the Manual of Style
2. images are not properly staggered left-right-left-right, also contradicting the Manual
3. a laser light show is captioned with the name of an early scientist instead of beginning with the quote it is illustrating, followed by the name of the scientist, as is usual practice. 99.27.132.16 (talk) 02:37, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

I started to try to take care of these issues, but it made me actually start reading the materiel in the article... wow. That's all I can say, really. Why is this article as long as it is, anyway? It's a Frankenstein of writing, for crying out loud! Those of you who have "contributed" to this beast ought to be ashamed of yourselves.
Ω (talk) 02:53, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

I suggest that you start reading the archives for this article before you start casting stones. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 12:51, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
I actually agree with you that the article ought to be simple. However, it has a long edit history (it was actually started by the creator of the Mediawiki software) with lots of controversy. The bottom line is that everyone has studied this topic in school and has an opinion on it. Hence its length. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 13:03, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
The article is protected due to "Heavy and persistent vandalism" in September last year. We could possibly try lifting the protection, if other editors would be willing to watchlist the article and keep an eye on it. — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 07:50, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
With the number of contributors to this article, don't you think that there are enough to watch over it? I'm not sure why exactly, but it's been on my watchlist for a long time. With all of the pointless bickering occurring here I tend to ignore it though.
It's possible that unprotecting it could lead to a better article. If people could "anonymously" IP edit it, that could help to disperse some of the ego-centric edit conflicts that seem to be occurring here. Sure, vandalism will occur, but it should be taken care of just like everywhere else.
Ω (talk) 16:31, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

Not done: please be more specific about what needs to be changed. As it says in the template: "Please change X" is not acceptable and will be rejected; the request must be of the form "please change X to Y".Deon555talkI'm BACK! 09:12, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

Following on from Ancheta Wis's comments above - this is one of the oldest articles in WP and it has been a topic of minor dispute constantly. It has been edit-protected because history has shown that it has not benefited from anonymous editing over the years (which is in contrast to the general "article evolution" pattern at Wikipedia). There is an enormous volume of discussion about this topic available in the archives. Manning (talk) 03:56, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
I strongly agree with Ancheta Wis and Manning Bartlett, and with their empirical approach. This article's history is a bit weird, and will probably continue that way insofar as no particular editor caused the weirdness. And the requirement for registration in order to edit the article is pretty minimal and reasonable. The Tetrast (talk) 06:44, 8 July 2009 (UTC).

## Article name and Arbcom ruling

Out of interest, a recent ruling by Arbcom is relevant reading here.

 “ Generally, article naming should prefer what the greatest number of English speakers would most easily recognize, with a reasonable minimum of ambiguity, while at the same time making linking to those articles easy and second nature. This is justified by the following principle: The names of Wikipedia articles should be optimized for readers over editors, and for a general audience over specialists. Wikipedia determines the recognizability of a name by seeing what verifiable reliable sources in English call the subject. ”

Manning (talk) 09:45, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

Are you actually asserting that because "the scientific method" is still common usage among folks unfamiliar with the modern terminology, the article should therefore be so named? In fact, the transition to the use of the words "scientific method" (as a mass noun without the "the" in front) has been steadily gaining currency for decades. We also see increasingly the use of "a scientific method" (acknowledging both core commonalities among the various scientific disciplines and differences between them, but as a count noun when used in this fashion). Perhaps best to not put any article (grammar) at all in the opening sentence so as to be reasonably consistent with the WP:Reliable sources on the issue. Best case scenario, IMO, is that ultimately this issue should be explicitly noted somewhere in the body text of the article. ... Kenosis (talk) 15:57, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm not really sure what Manning is trying to say, but WP:THE may be relevant here. —DragonHawk (talk|hist) 16:26, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
Kenosis/Dragonhawk - actually no, that's NOT what I was trying to say. I was commenting on the argument that the article should be called "Scientific methods" - ie. pluralised - which has been an ongoing issue here. Manning (talk) 23:38, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification (which could easily have been said at the outset, thus saving me some time and effort). It's an interesting proposal, IMO. I'd sure appreciate a referral to published reliable sources that refer to the topic in this way (as a plural count noun). Though somewhat original I think, it may be a fine way to lessen the many complaints about this admittedly complex issue that appears to often be confusing-to-the-less-than-highly-experienced reader. But in my observations and research to date, it's not the "lowest common denominator", so to speak, to which the arbcom ruling appears to me to refer w.r.t. naming topics. I'd sure be interested in hearing other opinions among WP editors familiar with the topic. Ancheta? Banno? Tetrast? Anyone else? ... Kenosis (talk) 02:58, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
Adding a bit to what I said just above, perhaps it would also be useful to take a few minutes to look at Hugh Gauch's modern classic Scientific Method in Practice, diagram at page 2, easily viewable online, courtesy of the Amazon.com book preview made available here. Gauch depicts scientific method as body of methodology with a nucleus and various branches depicted in a form somewhat resembling a sunflower. Add or take away a few leaves and it still looks like a sunflower. I'd definitely want to pose the question whether this rendering and that of other reliable sources is best represented as a plural noun. ... Kenosis (talk) 03:15, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

Since you asked... pedantic points about count nouns and arbitration rules aside, I don't see anything wrong with the existing title (Scientific method).
Ω (talk) 03:11, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
My apologies Kenosis. However I will note that this plural/singular argument currently occupies a substantial portion of this discussion page, as can be seen in sections 6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 above. Manning (talk) 03:17, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
I should point out that, AFAICT, every one of the sections just identified were brought to bear by one individual who also attempted to radically influence the article's content by using her/his own original research referenced directly to her/his somewhat anachronistic online thoughts about the topic. IIRC, I mentioned this several sections above. ... Kenosis (talk) 04:20, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
The term scientific method is well defined and widely used. It refers to a specific methodology, not to all methods used by scientists. Other encyclopedias have articles with this title, in the singular. I have not seen articles with the title in the plural. This is a non-issue, notwithstanding the amount of discussion here. Wikipedians argue about everything. Finell (Talk) 04:07, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
Nicely put. Manning (talk) 04:14, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
Indeed. While Manning raised a reasonable point IMO, I trust this very basic issue of the article's title is essentially "water under the bridge", so to speak-- for the present at least. This leaves, of course, Ohm's Law's observation about the Frankensteinian article at present (though personally I'd liken it more to a Mr. Potato Head :). Admittedly this somewhat ad hoc synthesis of the WP:RSs is in the natural character of the various reliable sources that are very similarly divergent in POV as is this article,, without any reliable and clearly defined "sides" of POV in the WP:Reliable sources about the topic, but rather, might we say, "pretty much all over the map" to date. However, in my opinion the article--even at present-- is an extremely reasonable expression of what the WP:RSs say about the topic. No doubt it can be improved-- though in my personal opinion no contributer should, as Ohm's Law asserted, be the least bit ashamed of the present expression of this quite complex topic. ... Kenosis (talk) 08:43, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

## Medical diagnosis and scientific method

How is medical diagnosis related to scientific method? Are there sources to support their relation? If so, this relation should be clarified in the article. pgr94 (talk) 10:25, 7 September 2009 (UTC)

This topic is a subset of mission-oriented research; several researchers have noted that scientific method can be successfully applied to specific uses, such as business, medicine, etc. The knowledge can be quite extensive, for example in the use of concrete, where the technology has actually been in use for thousands of years. One difference is in the competitive advantage which the use of scientific method might confer: on one hand, one might temporarily capture a market until the competition surpasses your advance; on the other, when one publishes the knowledge, then one has set a standard upon which everyone can build, which avoids re-invention of the wheel.
Governments have used this quite extensively: for example
1. the invention of a usable chronometer, which advanced world science as well as global commerce
2. the space race and big science in general
3. the Manhattan project is a poster child for the advantages and disadvantages of mission-oriented research
There are also privately funded researchers such as those funded by
1. the Howard Hughes Medical Institute
2. drug development
3. war on polio
4. The oil companies' expert systems are an example of research with a lifetime. When the limitations became known, the research withered as well
Nobel Memorial Laureate Paul Krugman has bemoaned the lack of sound financial and economic knowledge, especially among policy makers in government, where this lack has destabilized entire economies.
1. Several authors in finance actually write about the need for scientific method in their field
2. financial engineering has even found a home for its publications on arXiv.org, originally for physicists
Just from this off-hand listing, I believe it is pretty clear an entire article would be needed.
However, it is not clear that applications of scientific method improve science. Would these applications make life better? Would these applications make us better?
I propose shifting the header to mission-oriented research --Ancheta Wis (talk) 12:58, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
Normative science addresses these issues, but it is a stub right now. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 13:14, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
I'm afraid I don't understand your reply. By "sources" I meant reliable sources; could it be that you understood financial sources? Apologies for the confusion. pgr94 (talk) 13:32, 9 September 2009 (UTC)

This is the specific sentence in the article that I am referring to:

The development of the scientific method is inseparable from the history of science itself. Ancient Egyptian documents, such as early papyri, describe methods of medical diagnosis.

This sentence implies that medical diagnosis and scientific method are related. So are they related methods of inquiry, and if so, how are they related? pgr94 (talk) 13:43, 9 September 2009 (UTC)

I have seen the sentence you are questioning in some introductory texts (personally I would have no problem if the sentence Ancient Egyptian documents, such as early papyri, describe methods of medical diagnosis were gone). Medical diagnosis is clearly mission-oriented: "what is the problem" and "how might this problem be solved". Scientific method is most useful when seeking new knowledge, so if a disease has no known cure, then scientific method is one way to get to it (but the timeline for the cure might still be unknown, so a mission-oriented approach might be palliative care).
Hope this helps; medical diagnosis and scientific curiosity are two different motivations for an inquiry. A method for satisfying that inquiry can be the same, but clearly can also be different depending on motivation. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 15:43, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
Copyedited the offending sentence and placed Greek empiricism into context with Egypt's prior empirical (but pre-scientific) orientation. --Ancheta Wis (talk) 14:02, 12 September 2009 (UTC)
The changes look good to me. I would concur that the two modes of inquiry are related, and it would good to have a reliable source that covers the relationship in greater detail than just a passing sentence. pgr94 (talk) 15:44, 13 September 2009 (UTC)
I also raised the same issue for the History of scientific method article here. pgr94 (talk) 11:54, 14 September 2009 (UTC)
1911 Britannica notes that the practitioners of ancient Egyptian medicine were unclear about fundamental anatomy (i.e., the function of nerves, veins and arteries, organs, etc.). --Ancheta Wis (talk) 12:04, 14 September 2009 (UTC)

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