Scientific method

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For observational studies see observational study

An 18th-century depiction of early experimentation in the field of chemistry

The scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge.[1] To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.[2] The Oxford English Dictionary defines the scientific method as: "a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses."[3]

The chief characteristic which distinguishes the scientific method from other methods of acquiring knowledge is that scientists seek to let reality speak for itself,[discuss] supporting a theory when a theory's predictions are confirmed and challenging a theory when its predictions prove false. Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, identifiable features distinguish scientific inquiry from other methods of obtaining knowledge. Scientific researchers propose hypotheses as explanations of phenomena and design experimental studies to test these hypotheses via predictions which can be derived from them. These steps must be repeatable to guard against mistake or confusion in any particular experimenter. Theories that encompass wider domains of inquiry may bind many independently derived hypotheses together in a coherent, supportive structure. Theories, in turn, may help form new hypotheses or place groups of hypotheses into context.

Scientific inquiry is generally intended to be as objective as possible in order to reduce biased interpretations of results. Another basic expectation is to document, archive, and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, giving them the opportunity to verify the results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called full disclosure, also allows statistical measures of the reliability of the data to be established (when data is sampled or compared to chance).

Overview

Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen), 965–1039 Iraq. The Arab scholar who is considered by some to be the father of modern scientific methodology due to his emphasis on experimental data and reproducibility of its results.[4][5]
According to Morris Kline,[6] "Modern science owes its present flourishing state to a new scientific method which was fashioned almost entirely by Galileo Galilei." Dudley Shapere[7] takes a more measured view of Galileo's contribution.
Johannes Kepler (1571–1630). "Kepler shows his keen logical sense in detailing the whole process by which he finally arrived at the true orbit. This is the greatest piece of Retroductive reasoning ever performed." – C. S. Peirce, c. 1896, on Kepler's reasoning through explanatory hypotheses[8]

For the beginnings of scientific method: Karl Popper writes of Parmenides (fl. 5th century BCE):

So what was really new in Parmenides was his axiomatic-deductive method, which Leucippus and Democritus turned into a hypothetical-deductive method, and thus made part of scientific methodology.[9]

According to David Lindberg, Aristotle (4th century BCE) wrote about the scientific method even if he and his followers did not actually follow what he said. Lindberg also notes that Ptolemy (2nd century CE) and Ibn al-Haytham (11th century CE) are among the early examples of people who carried out scientific experiments. [10] Also, John Losee writes that "the Physics and the Metaphysics contain discussions of certain aspects of scientific method", of which, he says "Aristotle viewed scientific inquiry as a progression from observations to general principles and back to observations."[11]

The scientific method is the process by which science is carried out.[12] Because science builds on previous knowledge, it consistently improves our understanding of the world.[13] The scientific method also improves itself in the same way,[14] meaning that it gradually becomes more effective at generating new knowledge.[15][16] For example, the concept of falsification (first proposed in 1934) reduces confirmation bias by formalizing the attempt to disprove hypotheses rather than prove them.[17]

The overall process involves making conjectures (hypotheses), deriving predictions from them as logical consequences, and then carrying out experiments based on those predictions to determine whether the original conjecture was correct.[18] There are difficulties in a formulaic statement of method, however. Though the scientific method is often presented as a fixed sequence of steps, they are better considered as general principles.[19] Not all steps take place in every scientific inquiry (or to the same degree), and are not always in the same order. As noted by William Whewell (1794–1866), "invention, sagacity, [and] genius"[20] are required at every step:

Formulation of a question: The question can refer to the explanation of a specific observation, as in "Why is the sky blue?", but can also be open-ended, as in "How can I design a drug to cure this particular disease?" This stage also involves looking up and evaluating evidence from previous experiments, personal scientific observations or assertions, and/or the work of other scientists. If the answer is already known, a different question that builds on the previous evidence can be posed. When applying the scientific method to scientific research, determining a good question can be very difficult and affects the final outcome of the investigation.[21]
Hypothesis: An hypothesis is a conjecture, based on knowledge obtained while formulating the question, that may explain the observed behavior of a part of our universe. The hypothesis might be very specific, e.g., Einstein's equivalence principle or Francis Crick's "DNA makes RNA makes protein",[22] or it might be broad, e.g., unknown species of life dwell in the unexplored depths of the oceans. A statistical hypothesis is a conjecture about some population. For example, the population might be people with a particular disease. The conjecture might be that a new drug will cure the disease in some of those people. Terms commonly associated with statistical hypotheses are null hypothesis and alternative hypothesis. A null hypothesis is the conjecture that the statistical hypothesis is false, e.g., that the new drug does nothing and that any cures are due to chance effects. Researchers normally want to show that the null hypothesis is false. The alternative hypothesis is the desired outcome, e.g., that the drug does better than chance. A final point: a scientific hypothesis must be falsifiable, meaning that one can identify a possible outcome of an experiment that conflicts with predictions deduced from the hypothesis; otherwise, it cannot be meaningfully tested.
Prediction: This step involves determining the logical consequences of the hypothesis. One or more predictions are then selected for further testing. The less likely that the prediction would be correct simply by coincidence, the stronger evidence it would be if the prediction were fulfilled; evidence is also stronger if the answer to the prediction is not already known, due to the effects of hindsight bias (see also postdiction). Ideally, the prediction must also distinguish the hypothesis from likely alternatives; if two hypotheses make the same prediction, observing the prediction to be correct is not evidence for either one over the other. (These statements about the relative strength of evidence can be mathematically derived using Bayes' Theorem.)
Testing: This is an investigation of whether the real world behaves as predicted by the hypothesis. Scientists (and other people) test hypotheses by conducting experiments. The purpose of an experiment is to determine whether observations of the real world agree with or conflict with the predictions derived from an hypothesis. If they agree, confidence in the hypothesis increases; otherwise, it decreases. Agreement does not assure that the hypothesis is true; future experiments may reveal problems. Karl Popper advised scientists to try to falsify hypotheses, i.e., to search for and test those experiments that seem most doubtful. Large numbers of successful confirmations are not convincing if they arise from experiments that avoid risk.[23] Experiments should be designed to minimize possible errors, especially through the use of appropriate scientific controls. For example, tests of medical treatments are commonly run as double-blind tests. Test personnel, who might unwittingly reveal to test subjects which samples are the desired test drugs and which are placebos, are kept ignorant of which are which. Such hints can bias the responses of the test subjects. Furthermore, failure of an experiment does not necessarily mean the hypothesis is false. Experiments always depend on several hypotheses, e.g., that the test equipment is working properly, and a failure may be a failure of one of the auxiliary hypotheses. (See the Duhem-Quine thesis.) Experiments can be conducted in a college lab, on a kitchen table, at CERN's Large Hadron Collider, at the bottom of an ocean, on Mars (using one of the working rovers), and so on. Astronomers do experiments, searching for planets around distant stars. Finally, most individual experiments address highly specific topics for reasons of practicality. As a result, evidence about broader topics is usually accumulated gradually.
Analysis: This involves determining what the results of the experiment show and deciding on the next actions to take. The predictions of the hypothesis are compared to those of the null hypothesis, to determine which is better able to explain the data. In cases where an experiment is repeated many times, a statistical analysis such as a chi-squared test may be required. If the evidence has falsified the hypothesis, a new hypothesis is required; if the experiment supports the hypothesis but the evidence is not strong enough for high confidence, other predictions from the hypothesis must be tested. Once a hypothesis is strongly supported by evidence, a new question can be asked to provide further insight on the same topic. Evidence from other scientists and experience are frequently incorporated at any stage in the process. Depending on the complexity of the experiment, many iterations may be required to gather sufficient evidence to answer a question with confidence, or to build up many answers to highly specific questions in order to answer a single broader question.

This model underlies the scientific revolution.[24] One thousand years ago, Alhazen demonstrated the importance of forming questions and subsequently testing them,[25] an approach which was advocated by Galileo in 1638 with the publication of Two New Sciences.[26] The current method is based on a hypothetico-deductive model[27] formulated in the 20th century, although it has undergone significant revision since first proposed (for a more formal discussion, see below).

DNA example

DNA icon (25x25).png The basic elements of the scientific method are illustrated by the following example from the discovery of the structure of DNA:
  • Question: Previous investigation of DNA had determined its chemical composition (the four nucleotides), the structure of each individual nucleotide, and other properties. It had been identified as the carrier of genetic information by the Avery–MacLeod–McCarty experiment in 1944,[28] but the mechanism of how genetic information was stored in DNA was unclear.
  • Hypothesis: Francis Crick and James D. Watson hypothesized that DNA had a helical structure.[29]
  • Prediction: If DNA had a helical structure, its X-ray diffraction pattern would be X-shaped.[30][31] This prediction was determined using the mathematics of the helix transform, which had been derived by Cochran, Crick and Vand[32] (and independently by Stokes).
  • Experiment: Rosalind Franklin crystallized pure DNA and performed X-ray diffraction to produce photo 51. The results showed an X-shape.
  • Analysis: When Watson saw the detailed diffraction pattern, he immediately recognized it as a helix.[33][34] He and Crick then produced their model, using this information along with the previously known information about DNA's composition and about molecular interactions such as hydrogen bonds.[35]

The discovery became the starting point for many further studies involving the genetic material, such as the field of molecular genetics, and it was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962. Each step of the example is examined in more detail later in the article.

Other components

The scientific method also includes other components required even when all the iterations of the steps above have been completed:[citation needed]

Replication: If an experiment cannot be repeated to produce the same results, this implies that the original results were in error. As a result, it is common for a single experiment to be performed multiple times, especially when there are uncontrolled variables or other indications of experimental error. For significant or surprising results, other scientists may also attempt to replicate the results for themselves, especially if those results would be important to their own work.[citation needed]
External review: The process of peer review involves evaluation of the experiment by experts, who give their opinions anonymously to allow them to give unbiased criticism. It does not certify correctness of the results, only that the experiments themselves were sound (based on the description supplied by the experimenter). If the work passes peer review, which may require new experiments requested by the reviewers, it will be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The specific journal that publishes the results indicates the perceived quality of the work.[citation needed]
Data recording and sharing: Scientists must record all data very precisely in order to reduce their own bias and aid in replication by others, a requirement first promoted by Ludwik Fleck (1896–1961) and others.[36] They must supply this data to other scientists who wish to replicate any results, extending to the sharing of any experimental samples that may be difficult to obtain.[37]

Scientific inquiry

The goal of a scientific inquiry is to obtain knowledge in the form of testable explanations that can predict the results of future experiments. This allows scientists to gain an understanding of reality, and later use that understanding to intervene in its causal mechanisms (such as to cure disease). The better an explanation is at making predictions, the more useful it is, and the more likely it is to be correct. The most successful explanations, which explain and make accurate predictions in a wide range of circumstances, are called scientific theories.

Most experimental results do not result in large changes in human understanding; improvements in theoretical scientific understanding is usually the result of a gradual synthesis of the results of different experiments, by various researchers, across different domains of science.[38] Scientific models vary in the extent to which they have been experimentally tested and for how long, and in their acceptance in the scientific community. In general, explanations become accepted by a scientific community as evidence in favor is presented, and as presumptions that are inconsistent with the evidence are falsified.

Properties of scientific inquiry

Flying gallop falsified; see image below.
Muybridge's photographs of The Horse in Motion, 1878, were used to answer the question whether all four feet of a galloping horse are ever off the ground at the same time. This demonstrates a use of photography in science.

Scientific knowledge is closely tied to empirical findings, and always remains subject to falsification if new experimental observation incompatible with it is found. That is, no theory can ever be considered completely certain, since new evidence falsifying it might be discovered. If such evidence is found, a new theory may be proposed, or (more commonly) it is found that minor modifications to the previous theory are sufficient to explain the new evidence. The strength of a theory is related to how long it has persisted without falsification of its core principles.

Confirmed theories are also subject to subsumption by more accurate theories. For example, thousands of years of scientific observations of the planets were explained almost perfectly by Newton's laws. However, these laws were then determined to be special cases of a more general theory (relativity), which explained both the (previously unexplained) exceptions to Newton's laws as well as predicting and explaining other observations such as the deflection of light by gravity. Thus independent, unconnected, scientific observations can be connected to each other, unified by principles of increasing explanatory power.[39]

Since every new theory must explain even more than the previous one, any successor theory capable of subsuming it must meet an even higher standard, explaining both the larger, unified body of observations explained by the previous theory and unifying that with even more observations. In other words, as scientific knowledge becomes more accurate with time, it becomes increasingly harder to produce a more successful theory, simply because of the great success of the theories that already exist.[39] For example, the theory of evolution explains the diversity of life on Earth, how species adapt to their environments, and many other patterns observed in the natural world;[40][41] its most recent major modification was unification with genetics to form the modern evolutionary synthesis. In subsequent modifications, it has also subsumed aspects of many other fields such as biochemistry and molecular biology.

Beliefs and biases

Scientific methodology directs that hypotheses be tested in controlled conditions which can be reproduced by others. The scientific community's pursuit of experimental control and reproducibility diminishes the effects of cognitive biases.

For example, pre-existing beliefs can alter the interpretation of results, as in confirmation bias; this is a heuristic that leads a person with a particular belief to see things as reinforcing their belief, even if another observer might disagree (in other words, people tend to observe what they expect to observe).

A historical example is the conjecture that the legs of a galloping horse are splayed at the point when none of the horse's legs touches the ground, to the point of this image being included in paintings by its supporters. However, the first stop-action pictures of a horse's gallop by Eadweard Muybridge showed this to be false, and that the legs are instead gathered together.[42]

Another important human bias that plays a role is a preference for new, surprising statements (see appeal to novelty), which can result in a search for evidence that the new is true.[1]

In contrast to the requirement for scientific knowledge to correspond to reality, beliefs based on myth or stories can be believed and acted upon irrespective of truth,[43] often taking advantage of the narrative fallacy that when narrative is constructed its elements become easier to believe.[44][45] Myths intended to be taken as true must have their elements assumed a priori, while science requires testing and validation a posteriori before ideas are accepted.[46]

Elements of the scientific method

There are different ways of outlining the basic method used for scientific inquiry. The scientific community and philosophers of science generally agree on the following classification of method components. These methodological elements and organization of procedures tend to be more characteristic of natural sciences than social sciences. Nonetheless, the cycle of formulating hypotheses, testing and analyzing the results, and formulating new hypotheses, will resemble the cycle described below.

Four essential elements[47][48][49] of the scientific method[50] are iterations,[51][52] recursions,[53] interleavings, or orderings of the following:

Each element of the scientific method is subject to peer review for possible mistakes. These activities do not describe all that scientists do (see below) but apply mostly to experimental sciences (e.g., physics, chemistry, and biology). The elements above are often taught in the educational system as "the scientific method".[60]

The scientific method is not a single recipe: it requires intelligence, imagination, and creativity.[61] In this sense, it is not a mindless set of standards and procedures to follow, but is rather an ongoing cycle, constantly developing more useful, accurate and comprehensive models and methods. For example, when Einstein developed the Special and General Theories of Relativity, he did not in any way refute or discount Newton's Principia. On the contrary, if the astronomically large, the vanishingly small, and the extremely fast are removed from Einstein's theories – all phenomena Newton could not have observed – Newton's equations are what remain. Einstein's theories are expansions and refinements of Newton's theories and, thus, increase our confidence in Newton's work.

A linearized, pragmatic scheme of the four points above is sometimes offered as a guideline for proceeding:[62]

  1. Define a question
  2. Gather information and resources (observe)
  3. Form an explanatory hypothesis
  4. Test the hypothesis by performing an experiment and collecting data in a reproducible manner
  5. Analyze the data
  6. Interpret the data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis
  7. Publish results
  8. Retest (frequently done by other scientists)

The iterative cycle inherent in this step-by-step method goes from point 3 to 6 back to 3 again.

While this schema outlines a typical hypothesis/testing method,[63] it should also be noted that a number of philosophers, historians and sociologists of science (perhaps most notably Paul Feyerabend) claim that such descriptions of scientific method have little relation to the ways science is actually practiced.

The "operational" paradigm combines the concepts of operational definition, instrumentalism, and utility:

The essential elements of scientific method are operations, observations, models, and a utility function for evaluating models.[64][not in citation given]

Characterizations

The scientific method depends upon increasingly sophisticated characterizations of the subjects of investigation. (The subjects can also be called unsolved problems or the unknowns.) For example, Benjamin Franklin conjectured, correctly, that St. Elmo's fire was electrical in nature, but it has taken a long series of experiments and theoretical changes to establish this. While seeking the pertinent properties of the subjects, careful thought may also entail some definitions and observations; the observations often demand careful measurements and/or counting.

The systematic, careful collection of measurements or counts of relevant quantities is often the critical difference between pseudo-sciences, such as alchemy, and science, such as chemistry or biology. Scientific measurements are usually tabulated, graphed, or mapped, and statistical manipulations, such as correlation and regression, performed on them. The measurements might be made in a controlled setting, such as a laboratory, or made on more or less inaccessible or unmanipulatable objects such as stars or human populations. The measurements often require specialized scientific instruments such as thermometers, spectroscopes, particle accelerators, or voltmeters, and the progress of a scientific field is usually intimately tied to their invention and improvement.

I am not accustomed to saying anything with certainty after only one or two observations. – Andreas Vesalius (1546)[65]

Uncertainty

Measurements in scientific work are also usually accompanied by estimates of their uncertainty. The uncertainty is often estimated by making repeated measurements of the desired quantity. Uncertainties may also be calculated by consideration of the uncertainties of the individual underlying quantities used. Counts of things, such as the number of people in a nation at a particular time, may also have an uncertainty due to data collection limitations. Or counts may represent a sample of desired quantities, with an uncertainty that depends upon the sampling method used and the number of samples taken.

Definition

Measurements demand the use of operational definitions of relevant quantities. That is, a scientific quantity is described or defined by how it is measured, as opposed to some more vague, inexact or "idealized" definition. For example, electrical current, measured in amperes, may be operationally defined in terms of the mass of silver deposited in a certain time on an electrode in an electrochemical device that is described in some detail. The operational definition of a thing often relies on comparisons with standards: the operational definition of "mass" ultimately relies on the use of an artifact, such as a particular kilogram of platinum-iridium kept in a laboratory in France.

The scientific definition of a term sometimes differs substantially from its natural language usage. For example, mass and weight overlap in meaning in common discourse, but have distinct meanings in mechanics. Scientific quantities are often characterized by their units of measure which can later be described in terms of conventional physical units when communicating the work.

New theories are sometimes developed after realizing certain terms have not previously been sufficiently clearly defined. For example, Albert Einstein's first paper on relativity begins by defining simultaneity and the means for determining length. These ideas were skipped over by Isaac Newton with, "I do not define time, space, place and motion, as being well known to all." Einstein's paper then demonstrates that they (viz., absolute time and length independent of motion) were approximations. Francis Crick cautions us that when characterizing a subject, however, it can be premature to define something when it remains ill-understood.[66] In Crick's study of consciousness, he actually found it easier to study awareness in the visual system, rather than to study free will, for example. His cautionary example was the gene; the gene was much more poorly understood before Watson and Crick's pioneering discovery of the structure of DNA; it would have been counterproductive to spend much time on the definition of the gene, before them.

DNA-characterizations

DNA icon (25x25).png

The history of the discovery of the structure of DNA is a classic example of the elements of the scientific method: in 1950 it was known that genetic inheritance had a mathematical description, starting with the studies of Gregor Mendel, and that DNA contained genetic information (Oswald Avery's transforming principle).[28] But the mechanism of storing genetic information (i.e., genes) in DNA was unclear. Researchers in Bragg's laboratory at Cambridge University made X-ray diffraction pictures of various molecules, starting with crystals of salt, and proceeding to more complicated substances. Using clues painstakingly assembled over decades, beginning with its chemical composition, it was determined that it should be possible to characterize the physical structure of DNA, and the X-ray images would be the vehicle.[67] ..2. DNA-hypotheses

Another example: precession of Mercury

Precession of the perihelion (exaggerated)

The characterization element can require extended and extensive study, even centuries. It took thousands of years of measurements, from the Chaldean, Indian, Persian, Greek, Arabic and European astronomers, to fully record the motion of planet Earth. Newton was able to include those measurements into consequences of his laws of motion. But the perihelion of the planet Mercury's orbit exhibits a precession that cannot be fully explained by Newton's laws of motion (see diagram to the right), though it took quite some time to realize this. The observed difference for Mercury's precession between Newtonian theory and observation was one of the things that occurred to Einstein as a possible early test of his theory of General Relativity. His relativistic calculations matched observation much more closely than did Newtonian theory (the difference is approximately 43 arc-seconds per century), .

Hypothesis development

An hypothesis is a suggested explanation of a phenomenon, or alternately a reasoned proposal suggesting a possible correlation between or among a set of phenomena.

Normally hypotheses have the form of a mathematical model. Sometimes, but not always, they can also be formulated as existential statements, stating that some particular instance of the phenomenon being studied has some characteristic and causal explanations, which have the general form of universal statements, stating that every instance of the phenomenon has a particular characteristic.

Scientists are free to use whatever resources they have – their own creativity, ideas from other fields, induction, Bayesian inference, and so on – to imagine possible explanations for a phenomenon under study. Charles Sanders Peirce, borrowing a page from Aristotle (Prior Analytics, 2.25) described the incipient stages of inquiry, instigated by the "irritation of doubt" to venture a plausible guess, as abductive reasoning. The history of science is filled with stories of scientists claiming a "flash of inspiration", or a hunch, which then motivated them to look for evidence to support or refute their idea. Michael Polanyi made such creativity the centerpiece of his discussion of methodology.

William Glen observes that

the success of a hypothesis, or its service to science, lies not simply in its perceived "truth", or power to displace, subsume or reduce a predecessor idea, but perhaps more in its ability to stimulate the research that will illuminate … bald suppositions and areas of vagueness.[68]

In general scientists tend to look for theories that are "elegant" or "beautiful". In contrast to the usual English use of these terms, they here refer to a theory in accordance with the known facts, which is nevertheless relatively simple and easy to handle. Occam's Razor serves as a rule of thumb for choosing the most desirable amongst a group of equally explanatory hypotheses.

DNA-hypotheses

DNA icon (25x25).png

Linus Pauling proposed that DNA might be a triple helix.[69] This hypothesis was also considered by Francis Crick and James D. Watson but discarded. When Watson and Crick learned of Pauling's hypothesis, they understood from existing data that Pauling was wrong[70] and that Pauling would soon admit his difficulties with that structure. So, the race was on to figure out the correct structure (except that Pauling did not realize at the time that he was in a race – see section on "DNA-predictions" below)

Predictions from the hypothesis

Any useful hypothesis will enable predictions, by reasoning including deductive reasoning. It might predict the outcome of an experiment in a laboratory setting or the observation of a phenomenon in nature. The prediction can also be statistical and deal only with probabilities.

It is essential that the outcome of testing such a prediction be currently unknown. Only in this case does a successful outcome increase the probability that the hypothesis is true. If the outcome is already known, it is called a consequence and should have already been considered while formulating the hypothesis.

If the predictions are not accessible by observation or experience, the hypothesis is not yet testable and so will remain to that extent unscientific in a strict sense. A new technology or theory might make the necessary experiments feasible. Thus, much scientifically based speculation might convince one (or many) that the hypothesis that other intelligent species exist is true. But since there no experiment now known which can test this hypothesis, science itself can have little to say about the possibility. In future, some new technique might lead to an experimental test and the speculation would then become part of accepted science.

DNA-predictions

DNA icon (25x25).png

James D. Watson, Francis Crick, and others hypothesized that DNA had a helical structure. This implied that DNA's X-ray diffraction pattern would be 'x shaped'.[31][71] This prediction followed from the work of Cochran, Crick and Vand[32] (and independently by Stokes). The Cochran-Crick-Vand-Stokes theorem provided a mathematical explanation for the empirical observation that diffraction from helical structures produces x shaped patterns.

In their first paper, Watson and Crick also noted that the double helix structure they proposed provided a simple mechanism for DNA replication, writing, "It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material".[72] ..4. DNA-experiments

Another example: general relativity

Einstein's theory of General Relativity makes several specific predictions about the observable structure of space-time, such as that light bends in a gravitational field, and that the amount of bending depends in a precise way on the strength of that gravitational field. Arthur Eddington's observations made during a 1919 solar eclipse supported General Relativity rather than Newtonian gravitation.[73]

Experiments

Once predictions are made, they can be sought by experiments. If the test results contradict the predictions, the hypotheses which entailed them are called into question and become less tenable. Sometimes the experiments are conducted incorrectly or are not very well designed, when compared to a crucial experiment. If the experimental results confirm the predictions, then the hypotheses are considered more likely to be correct, but might still be wrong and continue to be subject to further testing. The experimental control is a technique for dealing with observational error. This technique uses the contrast between multiple samples (or observations) under differing conditions to see what varies or what remains the same. We vary the conditions for each measurement, to help isolate what has changed. Mill's canons can then help us figure out what the important factor is.[74] Factor analysis is one technique for discovering the important factor in an effect.

Depending on the predictions, the experiments can have different shapes. It could be a classical experiment in a laboratory setting, a double-blind study or an archaeological excavation. Even taking a plane from New York to Paris is an experiment which tests the aerodynamical hypotheses used for constructing the plane.

Scientists assume an attitude of openness and accountability on the part of those conducting an experiment. Detailed record keeping is essential, to aid in recording and reporting on the experimental results, and supports the effectiveness and integrity of the procedure. They will also assist in reproducing the experimental results, likely by others. Traces of this approach can be seen in the work of Hipparchus (190–120 BCE), when determining a value for the precession of the Earth, while controlled experiments can be seen in the works of Jābir ibn Hayyān (721–815 CE), al-Battani (853–929) and Alhazen (965–1039).[75]

DNA-experiments

DNA icon (25x25).png

Watson and Crick showed an initial (and incorrect) proposal for the structure of DNA to a team from Kings College – Rosalind Franklin, Maurice Wilkins, and Raymond Gosling. Franklin immediately spotted the flaws which concerned the water content. Later Watson saw Franklin's detailed X-ray diffraction images which showed an X-shape and was able to confirm the structure was helical.[33][34] This rekindled Watson and Crick's model building and led to the correct structure. ..1. DNA-characterizations

Evaluation and improvement

The scientific method is iterative. At any stage it is possible to refine its accuracy and precision, so that some consideration will lead the scientist to repeat an earlier part of the process. Failure to develop an interesting hypothesis may lead a scientist to re-define the subject under consideration. Failure of a hypothesis to produce interesting and testable predictions may lead to reconsideration of the hypothesis or of the definition of the subject. Failure of an experiment to produce interesting results may lead a scientist to reconsider the experimental method, the hypothesis, or the definition of the subject.

Other scientists may start their own research and enter the process at any stage. They might adopt the characterization and formulate their own hypothesis, or they might adopt the hypothesis and deduce their own predictions. Often the experiment is not done by the person who made the prediction, and the characterization is based on experiments done by someone else. Published results of experiments can also serve as a hypothesis predicting their own reproducibility.

DNA-iterations

DNA icon (25x25).png

After considerable fruitless experimentation, being discouraged by their superior from continuing, and numerous false starts,[76][77][78] Watson and Crick were able to infer the essential structure of DNA by concrete modeling of the physical shapes of the nucleotides which comprise it.[35][79] They were guided by the bond lengths which had been deduced by Linus Pauling and by Rosalind Franklin's X-ray diffraction images. ..DNA Example

Confirmation

Science is a social enterprise, and scientific work tends to be accepted by the scientific community when it has been confirmed. Crucially, experimental and theoretical results must be reproduced by others within the scientific community. Researchers have given their lives for this vision; Georg Wilhelm Richmann was killed by ball lightning (1753) when attempting to replicate the 1752 kite-flying experiment of Benjamin Franklin.[80]

To protect against bad science and fraudulent data, government research-granting agencies such as the National Science Foundation, and science journals, including Nature and Science, have a policy that researchers must archive their data and methods so that other researchers can test the data and methods and build on the research that has gone before. Scientific data archiving can be done at a number of national archives in the U.S. or in the World Data Center.

Models of scientific inquiry

Classical model

The classical model of scientific inquiry derives from Aristotle,[81] who distinguished the forms of approximate and exact reasoning, set out the threefold scheme of abductive, deductive, and inductive inference, and also treated the compound forms such as reasoning by analogy.

Pragmatic model

In 1877,[13] Charles Sanders Peirce (/ˈpɜrs/ like "purse"; 1839–1914) characterized inquiry in general not as the pursuit of truth per se but as the struggle to move from irritating, inhibitory doubts born of surprises, disagreements, and the like, and to reach a secure belief, belief being that on which one is prepared to act. He framed scientific inquiry as part of a broader spectrum and as spurred, like inquiry generally, by actual doubt, not mere verbal or hyperbolic doubt, which he held to be fruitless.[82] He outlined four methods of settling opinion, ordered from least to most successful:

  1. The method of tenacity (policy of sticking to initial belief) – which brings comforts and decisiveness but leads to trying to ignore contrary information and others' views as if truth were intrinsically private, not public. It goes against the social impulse and easily falters since one may well notice when another's opinion is as good as one's own initial opinion. Its successes can shine but tend to be transitory.
  2. The method of authority – which overcomes disagreements but sometimes brutally. Its successes can be majestic and long-lived, but it cannot operate thoroughly enough to suppress doubts indefinitely, especially when people learn of other societies present and past.
  3. The method of the a priori – which promotes conformity less brutally but fosters opinions as something like tastes, arising in conversation and comparisons of perspectives in terms of "what is agreeable to reason." Thereby it depends on fashion in paradigms and goes in circles over time. It is more intellectual and respectable but, like the first two methods, sustains accidental and capricious beliefs, destining some minds to doubt it.
  4. The scientific method – the method wherein inquiry regards itself as fallible and purposely tests itself and criticizes, corrects, and improves itself.

Peirce held that slow, stumbling ratiocination can be dangerously inferior to instinct and traditional sentiment in practical matters, and that the scientific method is best suited to theoretical research,[83] which in turn should not be trammeled by the other methods and practical ends; reason's "first rule" is that, in order to learn, one must desire to learn and, as a corollary, must not block the way of inquiry.[84] The scientific method excels the others by being deliberately designed to arrive – eventually – at the most secure beliefs, upon which the most successful practices can be based. Starting from the idea that people seek not truth per se but instead to subdue irritating, inhibitory doubt, Peirce showed how, through the struggle, some can come to submit to truth for the sake of belief's integrity, seek as truth the guidance of potential practice correctly to its given goal, and wed themselves to the scientific method.[13][15]

For Peirce, rational inquiry implies presuppositions about truth and the real; to reason is to presuppose (and at least to hope), as a principle of the reasoner's self-regulation, that the real is discoverable and independent of our vagaries of opinion. In that vein he defined truth as the correspondence of a sign (in particular, a proposition) to its object and, pragmatically, not as actual consensus of some definite, finite community (such that to inquire would be to poll the experts), but instead as that final opinion which all investigators would reach sooner or later but still inevitably, if they were to push investigation far enough, even when they start from different points.[85] In tandem he defined the real as a true sign's object (be that object a possibility or quality, or an actuality or brute fact, or a necessity or norm or law), which is what it is independently of any finite community's opinion and, pragmatically, depends only on the final opinion destined in a sufficient investigation. That is a destination as far, or near, as the truth itself to you or me or the given finite community. Thus his theory of inquiry boils down to "Do the science." Those conceptions of truth and the real involve the idea of a community both without definite limits (and thus potentially self-correcting as far as needed) and capable of definite increase of knowledge.[86] As inference, "logic is rooted in the social principle" since it depends on a standpoint that is, in a sense, unlimited.[87]

Paying special attention to the generation of explanations, Peirce outlined the scientific method as a coordination of three kinds of inference in a purposeful cycle aimed at settling doubts, as follows (in §III–IV in "A Neglected Argument"[18] except as otherwise noted):

1. Abduction (or retroduction). Guessing, inference to explanatory hypotheses for selection of those best worth trying. From abduction, Peirce distinguishes induction as inferring, on the basis of tests, the proportion of truth in the hypothesis. Every inquiry, whether into ideas, brute facts, or norms and laws, arises from surprising observations in one or more of those realms (and for example at any stage of an inquiry already underway). All explanatory content of theories comes from abduction, which guesses a new or outside idea so as to account in a simple, economical way for a surprising or complicative phenomenon. Oftenest, even a well-prepared mind guesses wrong. But the modicum of success of our guesses far exceeds that of sheer luck and seems born of attunement to nature by instincts developed or inherent, especially insofar as best guesses are optimally plausible and simple in the sense, said Peirce, of the "facile and natural", as by Galileo's natural light of reason and as distinct from "logical simplicity". Abduction is the most fertile but least secure mode of inference. Its general rationale is inductive: it succeeds often enough and, without it, there is no hope of sufficiently expediting inquiry (often multi-generational) toward new truths.[88] Coordinative method leads from abducing a plausible hypothesis to judging it for its testability[89] and for how its trial would economize inquiry itself.[90] Peirce calls his pragmatism "the logic of abduction".[91] His pragmatic maxim is: "Consider what effects that might conceivably have practical bearings you conceive the objects of your conception to have. Then, your conception of those effects is the whole of your conception of the object".[85] His pragmatism is a method of reducing conceptual confusions fruitfully by equating the meaning of any conception with the conceivable practical implications of its object's conceived effects – a method of experimentational mental reflection hospitable to forming hypotheses and conducive to testing them. It favors efficiency. The hypothesis, being insecure, needs to have practical implications leading at least to mental tests and, in science, lending themselves to scientific tests. A simple but unlikely guess, if uncostly to test for falsity, may belong first in line for testing. A guess is intrinsically worth testing if it has instinctive plausibility or reasoned objective probability, while subjective likelihood, though reasoned, can be misleadingly seductive. Guesses can be chosen for trial strategically, for their caution (for which Peirce gave as example the game of Twenty Questions), breadth, and incomplexity.[92] One can hope to discover only that which time would reveal through a learner's sufficient experience anyway, so the point is to expedite it; the economy of research is what demands the leap, so to speak, of abduction and governs its art.[90]

2. Deduction. Two stages:

i. Explication. Unclearly premissed, but deductive, analysis of the hypothesis in order to render its parts as clear as possible.
ii. Demonstration: Deductive Argumentation, Euclidean in procedure. Explicit deduction of hypothesis's consequences as predictions, for induction to test, about evidence to be found. Corollarial or, if needed, Theorematic.

3. Induction. The long-run validity of the rule of induction is deducible from the principle (presuppositional to reasoning in general[85]) that the real is only the object of the final opinion to which adequate investigation would lead;[93] anything to which no such process would ever lead would not be real. Induction involving ongoing tests or observations follows a method which, sufficiently persisted in, will diminish its error below any predesignate degree. Three stages:

i. Classification. Unclearly premissed, but inductive, classing of objects of experience under general ideas.
ii. Probation: direct Inductive Argumentation. Crude (the enumeration of instances) or Gradual (new estimate of proportion of truth in the hypothesis after each test). Gradual Induction is Qualitative or Quantitative; if Qualitative, then dependent on weightings of qualities or characters;[94] if Quantitative, then dependent on measurements, or on statistics, or on countings.
iii. Sentential Induction. "...which, by Inductive reasonings, appraises the different Probations singly, then their combinations, then makes self-appraisal of these very appraisals themselves, and passes final judgment on the whole result".

Communication and community

Frequently the scientific method is employed not only by a single person, but also by several people cooperating directly or indirectly. Such cooperation can be regarded as one of the defining elements of a scientific community. Various techniques have been developed to ensure the integrity of scientific methodology within such an environment.

Peer review evaluation

Scientific journals use a process of peer review, in which scientists' manuscripts are submitted by editors of scientific journals to (usually one to three) fellow (usually anonymous) scientists familiar with the field for evaluation. The referees may or may not recommend publication, publication with suggested modifications, or, sometimes, publication in another journal. This serves to keep the scientific literature free of unscientific or pseudoscientific work, to help cut down on obvious errors, and generally otherwise to improve the quality of the material. The peer review process can have limitations when considering research outside the conventional scientific paradigm: problems of "groupthink" can interfere with open and fair deliberation of some new research.[95]

Documentation and replication

Sometimes experimenters may make systematic errors during their experiments, unconsciously veer from scientific method (Pathological science) for various reasons, or, in rare cases, deliberately report false results. Consequently, it is a common practice for other scientists to attempt to repeat the experiments in order to duplicate the results, thus further validating the hypothesis.

Archiving

As a result, researchers are expected to practice scientific data archiving in compliance with the policies of government funding agencies and scientific journals. Detailed records of their experimental procedures, raw data, statistical analyses and source code are preserved in order to provide evidence of the effectiveness and integrity of the procedure and assist in reproduction. These procedural records may also assist in the conception of new experiments to test the hypothesis, and may prove useful to engineers who might examine the potential practical applications of a discovery.

Data sharing

When additional information is needed before a study can be reproduced, the author of the study is expected to provide it promptly. If the author refuses to share data, appeals can be made to the journal editors who published the study or to the institution which funded the research.

Limitations

Since it is impossible for a scientist to record everything that took place in an experiment, facts selected for their apparent relevance are reported. This may lead, unavoidably, to problems later if some supposedly irrelevant feature is questioned. For example, Heinrich Hertz did not report the size of the room used to test Maxwell's equations, which later turned out to account for a small deviation in the results. The problem is that parts of the theory itself need to be assumed in order to select and report the experimental conditions. The observations are hence sometimes described as being 'theory-laden'.

Dimensions of practice

The primary constraints on contemporary science are:

  • Publication, i.e. Peer review
  • Resources (mostly funding)

It has not always been like this: in the old days of the "gentleman scientist" funding (and to a lesser extent publication) were far weaker constraints.

Both of these constraints indirectly require scientific method – work that violates the constraints will be difficult to publish and difficult to get funded. Journals require submitted papers to conform to "good scientific practice" and this is mostly enforced by peer review. Originality, importance and interest are more important – see for example the author guidelines for Nature.

Philosophy and sociology of science

Philosophy of science looks at the underpinning logic of the scientific method, at what separates science from non-science, and the ethic that is implicit in science. There are basic assumptions, derived from philosophy by at least one prominent scientist, that form the base of the scientific method – namely, that reality is objective and consistent, that humans have the capacity to perceive reality accurately, and that rational explanations exist for elements of the real world.[96] These assumptions from methodological naturalism form a basis on which science may be grounded. Logical Positivist, empiricist, falsificationist, and other theories have criticized these assumptions and given alternative accounts of the logic of science, but each has also itself been criticized.

Thomas Kuhn examined the history of science in his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and found that the actual method used by scientists differed dramatically from the then-espoused method. His observations of science practice are essentially sociological and do not speak to how science is or can be practiced in other times and other cultures.

Norwood Russell Hanson, Imre Lakatos and Thomas Kuhn have done extensive work on the "theory laden" character of observation. Hanson (1958) first coined the term for the idea that all observation is dependent on the conceptual framework of the observer, using the concept of gestalt to show how preconceptions can affect both observation and description.[97] He opens Chapter 1 with a discussion of the Golgi bodies and their initial rejection as an artefact of staining technique, and a discussion of Brahe and Kepler observing the dawn and seeing a "different" sun rise despite the same physiological phenomenon. Kuhn[98] and Feyerabend[99] acknowledge the pioneering significance of his work.

Kuhn (1961) said the scientist generally has a theory in mind before designing and undertaking experiments so as to make empirical observations, and that the "route from theory to measurement can almost never be traveled backward". This implies that the way in which theory is tested is dictated by the nature of the theory itself, which led Kuhn (1961, p. 166) to argue that "once it has been adopted by a profession ... no theory is recognized to be testable by any quantitative tests that it has not already passed".[100]

Paul Feyerabend similarly examined the history of science, and was led to deny that science is genuinely a methodological process. In his book Against Method he argues that scientific progress is not the result of applying any particular method. In essence, he says that for any specific method or norm of science, one can find a historic episode where violating it has contributed to the progress of science. Thus, if believers in scientific method wish to express a single universally valid rule, Feyerabend jokingly suggests, it should be 'anything goes'.[101] Criticisms such as his led to the strong programme, a radical approach to the sociology of science.

The postmodernist critiques of science have themselves been the subject of intense controversy. This ongoing debate, known as the science wars, is the result of conflicting values and assumptions between the postmodernist and realist camps. Whereas postmodernists assert that scientific knowledge is simply another discourse (note that this term has special meaning in this context) and not representative of any form of fundamental truth, realists in the scientific community maintain that scientific knowledge does reveal real and fundamental truths about reality. Many books have been written by scientists which take on this problem and challenge the assertions of the postmodernists while defending science as a legitimate method of deriving truth.[102]

Role of chance in discovery

Somewhere between 33% and 50% of all scientific discoveries are estimated to have been stumbled upon, rather than sought out. This may explain why scientists so often express that they were lucky.[103] Louis Pasteur is credited with the famous saying that "Luck favours the prepared mind", but some psychologists have begun to study what it means to be 'prepared for luck' in the scientific context. Research is showing that scientists are taught various heuristics that tend to harness chance and the unexpected.[103][104] This is what Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls "Anti-fragility"; while some systems of investigation are fragile in the face of human error, human bias, and randomness, the scientific method is more than resistant or tough – it actually benefits from such randomness in many ways (it is anti-fragile). Taleb believes that the more anti-fragile the system, the more it will flourish in the real world.[16]

Psychologist Kevin Dunbar says the process of discovery often starts with researchers finding bugs in their experiments. These unexpected results lead researchers to try and fix what they think is an error in their method. Eventually, the researcher decides the error is too persistent and systematic to be a coincidence. The highly controlled, cautious and curious aspects of the scientific method are thus what make it well suited for identifying such persistent systematic errors. At this point, the researcher will begin to think of theoretical explanations for the error, often seeking the help of colleagues across different domains of expertise.[103][104]

History

Aristotle, 384 BCE – 322 BCE. "As regards his method, Aristotle is recognized as the inventor of scientific method because of his refined analysis of logical implications contained in demonstrative discourse, which goes well beyond natural logic and does not owe anything to the ones who philosophized before him." – Riccardo Pozzo[105]

The development of the scientific method is inseparable from the history of science itself. Ancient Egyptian documents describe empirical methods in astronomy,[106] mathematics,[107] and medicine.[108] In the 7th century BCE, Daniel, a Jewish captive of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, conducted a scientific experiment complete with a hypothesis, a control group, a treatment group, and a conclusion. The control group partook of the king's delicacies and wine, whereas Daniel's test group limited themselves to vegetables and water.[109] At the end of the test, Daniel's hypothesis was proven true.

The ancient Greek philosopher Thales in the 6th century BCE refused to accept supernatural, religious or mythological explanations for natural phenomena, proclaiming that every event had a natural cause. The development of deductive reasoning by Plato was an important step towards the scientific method. Empiricism seems to have been formalized by Aristotle, who believed that universal truths could be reached via induction.

However in order for true scientific method to develop, Aristotle could not be taken at face value. Errors in his "On the Heavens" and "Physics" had to be realized and corrected. Moreover, the pagan view common in the world during that era followed two concepts that prevented them from progressing toward a functional scientific method:

  1. Organismic view of nature – nature and created objects are divine or are themselves without beginning or end
  2. Circular reasoning as opposed to linear reasoning.[discuss]

According to Haffner, cultures that were thus debilitated included Chinese, Hindu, Meso-American, Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek and Arabic.[110]

Early Christian leaders such as Clement of Alexandria (150–215) and Basil of Caesarea (330–379) encouraged future generations to view the Greek wisdom as "handmaidens to theology" and science was considered a means to more accurate understanding of the Bible and of God.[111]Augustine of Hippo (354–430) who contributed great philosophical wealth to the Latin Middle Ages, advocated the study of science and was wary of philosophies that disagreed with the Bible, such as astrology and the Greek belief that the world had no beginning.[111] This Christian accommodation with Greek science "laid a foundation for the later widespread, intensive study of natural philosophy during the Late Middle Ages."[111] However the division of Latin-speaking Western Europe from the Greek-speaking East,[111] followed by barbarian invasions, the Plague of Justinian, and the Islamic invasion,[112] resulted in the West largely losing access to Greek wisdom.

By the 8th century Islam had overrun the Christian lands[113] of Syria, Iraq, Iran and Egypt[114] This swift occupation further severed Western Europe from many of the great works of Aristotle, Plato, Euclid and others, many of which were housed in the great library of Alexandria. Having come upon such a wealth of knowledge, the Arabs, who viewed non-Arab languages as inferior, even as a source of pollution,[115] employed conquered Christians and Jews to translate these works from the native Greek and Syriac into Arabic[116]

Thus equipped, Arab philosopher Alhazen performed optical and physiological experiments, reported in his manifold works, the most famous being Book of Optics (1021).[117] He was thus a forerunner of scientific method, having understood that a controlled environment involving experimentation and measurement is required in order to draw educated conclusions. Other Arab polymaths of the same era produced copious works on mathematics, philosophy, astronomy and alchemy. Most stuck closely to Aristotle, being hesitant to admit that some of Aristotle's thinking was errant,[118] while others strongly criticized him.

During these years, occasionally a paraphrased translation from the Arabic, which itself had been translated from Greek and Syriac, might make its way to the West for scholarly study. It was not until 1204, during which the Latins conquered and took Constantinople from the Byzantines in the name of the fourth Crusade, that a renewed scholarly interest in the original Greek manuscripts began to grow. Due to the new easier access to the libraries of Constantinople by Western scholars, a certain revival in the study and analysis of the original Greek texts by Western scholars began.[119] From that point a functional scientific method that would launch modern science was on the horizon.

Grosseteste (1175–1253), an English statesman, scientist and Christian theologian, was "the principal figure" in bringing about "a more adequate method of scientific inquiry" by which "medieval scientists were able eventually to outstrip their ancient European and Muslim teachers" (Dales 1973:62). ... His thinking influenced Roger Bacon, who spread Grosseteste's ideas from Oxford to the University of Paris during a visit there in the 1240s. From the prestigious universities in Oxford and Paris, the new experimental science spread rapidly throughout the medieval universities: "And so it went to Galileo, William Gilbert, Francis Bacon, William Harvey, Descartes, Robert Hooke, Newton, Leibniz, and the world of the seventeenth century" (Crombie 1962:15). So it went to us also.| Hugh G. Gauch, 2003.[120]

Roger Bacon (c. 1214 – 1294) is sometimes credited as one of the earliest European advocates of the modern scientific method inspired by the works of Aristotle.[121]

Roger Bacon (1214–1294), an English thinker and experimenter, is recognized by many to be the father of modern scientific method. His view that mathematics was essential to a correct understanding of natural philosophy was considered to be 400 years ahead of its time.[122] He was viewed as "a lone genius proclaiming the truth about time," having correctly calculated the calendar[122] His work in optics provided the platform on which Newton, Descartes, Huygens and others later transformed the science of light. Bacon's groundbreaking advances were due largely to his discovery that experimental science must be based on mathematics. (186–187) His works Opus Majus and De Speculis Comburentibus contain many "carefully drawn diagrams showing Bacon's meticulous investigations into the behavior of light."[122] He gives detailed descriptions of systematic studies using prisms and measurements by which he shows how a rainbow functions.[122]

Others who advanced scientific method during this era included Albertus Magnus (c. 1193 – 1280), Theodoric of Freiberg, (c. 1250 – c. 1310), William of Ockham (c. 1285 – c. 1350), and Jean Buridan (c. 1300 – c. 1358). These were not only scientists but leaders of the church – Christian archbishops, friars and priests.

By the late 15th century, the physician-scholar Niccolò Leoniceno was finding errors in Pliny's Natural History. As a physician, Leoniceno was concerned about these botanical errors propagating to the materia medica on which medicines were based.[123] To counter this, a botanical garden was established at Orto botanico di Padova, University of Padua (in use for teaching by 1546), in order that medical students might have empirical access to the plants of a pharmacopia. The philosopher and physician Francisco Sanches was led by his medical training at Rome, 1571–73, and by the philosophical skepticism recently placed in the European mainstream by the publication of Sextus Empiricus' "Outlines of Pyrrhonism", to search for a true method of knowing (modus sciendi), as nothing clear can be known by the methods of Aristotle and his followers[124] – for example, syllogism fails upon circular reasoning. Following the physician Galen's method of medicine, Sanches lists the methods of judgement and experience, which are faulty in the wrong hands,[125] and we are left with the bleak statement That Nothing is Known (1581). This challenge was taken up by René Descartes in the next generation (1637), but at the least, Sanches warns us that we ought to refrain from the methods, summaries, and commentaries on Aristotle, if we seek scientific knowledge. In this, he is echoed by Francis Bacon, also influenced by skepticism; Sanches cites the humanist Juan Luis Vives who sought a better educational system, as well as a statement of human rights as a pathway for improvement of the lot of the poor.

The modern scientific method crystallized no later than in the 17th and 18th centuries. In his work Novum Organum (1620) – a reference to Aristotle's OrganonFrancis Bacon outlined a new system of logic to improve upon the old philosophical process of syllogism.[126] Then, in 1637, René Descartes established the framework for scientific method's guiding principles in his treatise, Discourse on Method. The writings of Alhazen, Bacon and Descartes are considered critical in the historical development of the modern scientific method, as are those of John Stuart Mill.[127]

In the late 19th century, Charles Sanders Peirce proposed a schema that would turn out to have considerable influence in the development of current scientific methodology generally. Peirce accelerated the progress on several fronts. Firstly, speaking in broader context in "How to Make Our Ideas Clear" (1878), Peirce outlined an objectively verifiable method to test the truth of putative knowledge on a way that goes beyond mere foundational alternatives, focusing upon both deduction and induction. He thus placed induction and deduction in a complementary rather than competitive context (the latter of which had been the primary trend at least since David Hume, who wrote in the mid-to-late 18th century). Secondly, and of more direct importance to modern method, Peirce put forth the basic schema for hypothesis/testing that continues to prevail today. Extracting the theory of inquiry from its raw materials in classical logic, he refined it in parallel with the early development of symbolic logic to address the then-current problems in scientific reasoning. Peirce examined and articulated the three fundamental modes of reasoning that, as discussed above in this article, play a role in inquiry today, the processes that are currently known as abductive, deductive, and inductive inference. Thirdly, he played a major role in the progress of symbolic logic itself – indeed this was his primary specialty.

Beginning in the 1930s, Karl Popper argued that there is no such thing as inductive reasoning.[128] All inferences ever made, including in science, are purely[129] deductive according to this view. Accordingly, he claimed that the empirical character of science has nothing to do with induction – but with the deductive property of falsifiability that scientific hypotheses have. Contrasting his views with inductivism and positivism, he even denied the existence of the scientific method: "(1) There is no method of discovering a scientific theory (2) There is no method for ascertaining the truth of a scientific hypothesis, i.e., no method of verification; (3) There is no method for ascertaining whether a hypothesis is 'probable', or probably true".[130] Instead, he held that there is only one universal method, a method not particular to science: The negative method of criticism, or colloquially termed trial and error. It covers not only all products of the human mind, including science, mathematics, philosophy, art and so on, but also the evolution of life. Following Peirce and others, Popper argued that science is fallible and has no authority.[130] In contrast to empiricist-inductivist views, he welcomed metaphysics and philosophical discussion and even gave qualified support to myths[131] and pseudosciences.[132] Popper's view has become known as critical rationalism.

Although science in a broad sense existed before the modern era, and in many historical civilizations (as described above), modern science is so distinct in its approach and successful in its results that it now defines what science is in the strictest sense of the term.[133]

Scientific method and religion

The question of the relationship of scientific method to religion is a controversial one, both regarding to what degree scientific method had its origins in Christian theism, and to what degree the scientific method as understood today is compatible with religion.

In the 18th century, the birth of the scientific method was largely credited to the work of Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, and John Locke, although modern history has shown that much earlier figures such as Roger Bacon and Islamic scientists played an important role in shaping the experimental method. Thomas Jefferson wrote "Bacon, Locke and Newton... I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception, and as having laid the foundation of those superstructures which have been raised in the Physical and Moral sciences"[134] All three of these men were Christian theists who nonetheless rejected medieval Scholasticism with its synthesis of Aristotle and theology. Furthermore, Locke and Newton were both theological Unitarians, disbelieving in the divinity of Christ. Some historians speculate that Francis Bacon dabbled in esoteric beliefs such as Rosicrucianism or Freemasonry. Nonetheless, Newton saw God as masterful creator whose existence could not be denied in the face of creation.[135]

The notion that modern scientific method was given a boost by Christianity was heavily argued by Alfred North Whitehead in his 1925 book Science and the Modern World. He writes "faith in the possibility of science, generated antecedently to the development of modern scientific theory, is an unconscious derivative from medieval theology".[136] On the other hand the notion that scientific method and theology were in conflict from the beginning was argued by Bertrand Russell in his 1931 book The Scientific Outlook, arguing that science introduced induction and therefore reasoning about the past into Western thought, and that because Galileo "questioned both Aristotle and the Scriptures, [he] thereby destroyed the whole edifice of medieval knowledge."[137]

A similar contrast of views appears in more recent publications. Christian apologist C.S. Lewis wrote in Miracles

Men became scientific because they expected Law in Nature, and they expected Law in Nature because they believed in a Legislator. In most modern scientists this belief has died: it will be interesting to see how long their confidence in uniformity survives it. Two significant developments have already appeared—the hypothesis of a lawless sub-nature, and the surrender of the claim that science is true. We may be living nearer than we suppose to the end of the Scientific Age.[138]

Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga has echoed Whitehead in writing "It is important to see that our notion of the laws of nature, crucial for contemporary science, has this origin in Christian theism".[139] Regarding science as currently practiced, Plantinga has also argued that belief in God is a "properly basic belief." Christian philosopher William Lane Craig further argues that belief in God is presupposed by scientific inquiry, as it is required to explain why the universe is intelligible or lawful.

On the other hand, the notion that the intelligibility of the universe does not need God to be explained, a position known as philosophical naturalism, has been defended by philosophers such as Quentin Smith.[140] Philosopher Kai Nielsen (largely quoting Sidney Hook) states that what unites philosophers who call themselves "naturalists" is that they agree that the scientific method is the proper way of fixing beliefs, that it is the only reliable method of arriving at truth, given its dependence on public verifiability of its finding. The scientific method does not need to presuppose any transcendent reality (sometimes called "skyhooks") to validate itself. It is justified by the expectations set by its known successes. Nielsen says that "metaphysics" can be left to "spirit-seers and other crazies".[141] Skeptic philosopher Daniel Dennett has argued that a full extension of the scientific method to all knowledge leads ultimately to a naturalistic understanding of the origins of religion in his book Breaking the Spell,[142] echoing Bertrand Russell's dictum "what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know". C. S. Lewis' friend and fellow science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke viewed religion as antithetical to the scientific method, because religion consists of premature conclusions concerning the ultimate truth, thus substituting faith for knowledge.[143] Sidney Hook (the philosopher quoted by Nielsen) did not limit knowable truth to what is found in the laboratory. However, he regarded science as providing a general paradigm for all rational inquiry,[144][145] and regarded religion as metaphysical speculation. Science provided a model of verifiability and "critical intelligence" that was in some ways generalizable to other areas of inquiry, including up to a point public policy issues. However, for Hook, asserting the primacy of scientific method required no foundational metaphysical beliefs, but was justified by its empirical success.[146]

Recently biologist Jerry Coyne has emerged as a strong advocate of the view that science and religion cannot be reconciled because they have conflicting methodologies of what constitutes evidence. He describes religion as the most "venerable superstition" which we honor simply for its power and influence. Coyne has listed three ways that science and religion are not compatible. One is that only science has a reliable way to settle truth claims. Secondly, scientific investigation often produces outcomes contrary to religion, and they have different philosophical bases. Finally, religion venerates faith as a virtue, while science no longer has the need for God as a hypothesis to explain anything.[147]

Critics of both philosophical naturalism and champions of scientific method often decry positions like this as "scientism", a frequent target of C.S. Lewis, especially in his book The Abolition of Man often cited by Christian apologists today.[148] Lewis regards the position of scientism as dehumanizing and reductionistic. Scientism has been similarly criticized by William Lane Craig,[149][150] who regards it as self-refuting in the sense that the validity of science cannot itself be proven scientifically. Even non-religious evolutionary biologist H. Allen Orr (a frequent critic of New Atheist writers) has commended Stephen Jay Gould for opposing the view that "all truths are ultimately scientific". Orr writes "The world is not all science and there are places where science cannot and even should not go. But this lesson has come surprisingly hard to many philosophers and scientists... Scientism is naive and it is hubristic."[151]

In response to such criticisms, Daniel Dennett has said that "when someone puts forward a scientific theory that [religious critics] really don't like, they just try to discredit it as 'scientism'",[152] while his fellow skeptic Michael Shermer has embraced the label on the grounds that cosmology and evolutionary theory now answer the questions once posed by theology.[153]

Also disputed is the extent of the contribution of ancient non-Christian civilizations (especially medieval Islam) to the growth of scientific method. The oldest natural science is astronomy, developed independently by Chinese, Indians, Mayans, Egyptians, Greeks, and Arabs.[154] Science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke has noted that during medieval times, Muslims made great strides in astronomy and algebra while scientific development in the Christian West languished.[155] Robert Briffault, in The Making of Humanity, asserted that the very existence of science, as it is understood in the modern sense, is rooted in the scientific thought and knowledge that emerged in Islamic civilizations during this time.[156] However, physicist and priest Stanley Jaki has argued that the source of the Arab difficulty in getting beyond Aristotle lay in the Islamic worldview, which often saw natural phenomenon as a direct product of the unpredictable will of Allah[157] in conjunction with the belief that nature was alive and divine[158][159] as reflected in their pursuit of astrology and adherence to folk traditions. However, other historians have argued that Ibn Al-Haytham's approach to testing and experimentation was a critical contribution to scientific method. This includes Rosan Gorini in her book Al-Haytham the Man of Experience. First Steps in the Science of Vision.[160] Robert Briffault, in The Making of Humanity, asserts that the very existence of science, as it is understood in the modern sense, is rooted in the scientific thought and knowledge that emerged in Islamic civilizations during the medieval era.[156] Similarly, Bradley Steffens's book Ibn Al-Haytham: First Scientist has argued that Alhazen's approach to testing and experimentation was a critical contribution to scientific method. According to Matthias Schramm, Alhazen:

was the first to make a systematic use of the method of varying the experimental conditions in a constant and uniform manner, in an experiment showing that the intensity of the light-spot formed by the projection of the moonlight through two small apertures onto a screen diminishes constantly as one of the apertures is gradually blocked up.[161]

G. J. Toomer has expressed skepticism regarding this view, arguing that caution is needed to avoid reading anachronistically particular passages in Alhazen's work, and while acknowledging Alhazen's importance in developing experimental techniques, argued that he should not be considered in isolation from other Islamic and ancient thinkers.[162] Alhazen viewed all men as prone to error, and therefore

I constantly sought knowledge and truth, and it became my belief that for gaining access to the effulgence and closeness to God, there is no better way than that of searching for truth and knowledge.[163]

It may be simultaneously true both that Christian thinking played an important role in the rise of modern science given theology's commitment to an intelligible universe (as Alfred Whitehead and Alvin Plantinga have argued), while at the same time Christians have periodically been repelled by the actual findings of science in part causing the modern scientific community to abandon whatever Christian roots early modern science had. Studies have shown that in the United States scientists are less likely to believe in God than the rest of the population. Precise statistics vary, but generally about 1/3 of scientists are atheists, 1/3 agnostic, and 1/3 have some belief in God (although some might be deistic, for example).[164][165][166] This is in contrast to the more than roughly 3/4 of the general population that believe in some God in the United States.

Relationship with mathematics

Science is the process of gathering, comparing, and evaluating proposed models against observables. A model can be a simulation, mathematical or chemical formula, or set of proposed steps. Science is like mathematics in that researchers in both disciplines can clearly distinguish what is known from what is unknown at each stage of discovery. Models, in both science and mathematics, need to be internally consistent and also ought to be falsifiable (capable of disproof). In mathematics, a statement need not yet be proven; at such a stage, that statement would be called a conjecture. But when a statement has attained mathematical proof, that statement gains a kind of immortality which is highly prized by mathematicians, and for which some mathematicians devote their lives.[167]

Mathematical work and scientific work can inspire each other.[168] For example, the technical concept of time arose in science, and timelessness was a hallmark of a mathematical topic. But today, the Poincaré conjecture has been proven using time as a mathematical concept in which objects can flow (see Ricci flow).

Nevertheless, the connection between mathematics and reality (and so science to the extent it describes reality) remains obscure. Eugene Wigner's paper, The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences, is a very well known account of the issue from a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. In fact, some observers (including some well known mathematicians such as Gregory Chaitin, and others such as Lakoff and Núñez) have suggested that mathematics is the result of practitioner bias and human limitation (including cultural ones), somewhat like the post-modernist view of science.

George Pólya's work on problem solving,[169] the construction of mathematical proofs, and heuristic[170][171] show that the mathematical method and the scientific method differ in detail, while nevertheless resembling each other in using iterative or recursive steps.

Mathematical method Scientific method
1 Understanding Characterization from experience and observation
2 Analysis Hypothesis: a proposed explanation
3 Synthesis Deduction: prediction from the hypothesis
4 Review/Extend Test and experiment

In Pólya's view, understanding involves restating unfamiliar definitions in your own words, resorting to geometrical figures, and questioning what we know and do not know already; analysis, which Pólya takes from Pappus,[172] involves free and heuristic construction of plausible arguments, working backward from the goal, and devising a plan for constructing the proof; synthesis is the strict Euclidean exposition of step-by-step details[173] of the proof; review involves reconsidering and re-examining the result and the path taken to it.

Gauss, when asked how he came about his theorems, once replied "durch planmässiges Tattonieren" (through systematic palpable experimentation).[174]

Imre Lakatos argued that mathematicians actually use contradiction, criticism and revision as principles for improving their work.[175]

See also

Problems and issues

History, philosophy, sociology

Notes

  1. ^ a b Goldhaber & Nieto 2010, p. 940
  2. ^ "[4] Rules for the study of natural philosophy", Newton transl 1999, pp. 794–6, after Book 3, The System of the World.
  3. ^ Oxford English Dictionary – entry for scientific.
  4. ^ Jim Al-Khalili (4 January 2009). "The 'first true scientist'". BBC News. 
  5. ^ Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa (2010). Mind, Brain, and Education Science: A Comprehensive Guide to the New Brain-Based Teaching. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 39. ISBN 9780393706079. "Alhazen (or Al-Haytham; 965–1039 C.E.) was perhaps one of the greatest physicists of all times and a product of the Islamic Golden Age or Islamic Renaissance (7th–13th centuries). He made significant contributions to anatomy, astronomy, engineering, mathematics, medicine, ophthalmology, philosophy, physics, psychology, and visual perception and is primarily attributed as the inventor of the scientific method, for which author Bradley Steffens (2006) describes him as the “first scientist"." 
  6. ^ Morris Kline (1985) Mathematics for the nonmathematician. Courier Dover Publications. p. 284. ISBN 0-486-24823-2
  7. ^ Shapere, Dudley (1974). Galileo: A Philosophical Study. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-75007-8. 
  8. ^ Peirce, C. S., Collected Papers v. 1, paragraph 74.
  9. ^ Popper, Karl (1998). The world of Parmenides: essays on the Presocratic enlightenment. Routledge. p. 91. ISBN 0415173019. 
  10. ^ Lindberg, David (2007). The beginnings of western science: the European scientific tradition in philosophical, religious, and institutional context, Prehistory to A.D. 1450. The University of Chicago Press. p. 362. ISBN 0226482057. 
  11. ^ Losee, John (2001). A Historical Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. Oxford University Press. pp. 4–5. ISBN 0198700555. 
  12. ^ " The thesis of this book, as set forth in Chapter One, is that there are general principles applicable to all the sciences." __ Gauch 2003, p. xv
  13. ^ a b c Peirce (1877), "The Fixation of Belief", Popular Science Monthly, v. 12, pp. 1–15. Reprinted often, including (Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce v. 5, paragraphs 358–87), (The Essential Peirce, v. 1, pp. 109–23). Peirce.org Eprint. Wikisource Eprint.
  14. ^ Gauch 2003, p. 1: This is the principle of noncontradiction.
  15. ^ a b Peirce, C. S., Collected Papers v. 5, in paragraph 582, from 1898:

    ... [rational] inquiry of every type, fully carried out, has the vital power of self-correction and of growth. This is a property so deeply saturating its inmost nature that it may truly be said that there is but one thing needful for learning the truth, and that is a hearty and active desire to learn what is true.

  16. ^ a b Taleb contributes a brief description of anti-fragility, http://www.edge.org/q2011/q11_3.html
  17. ^ Karl R. Popper (1963), 'The Logic of Scientific Discovery'. The Logic of Scientific Discovery pp. 17–20, 249–252, 437–438, and elsewhere.
    • Leon Lederman, for teaching physics first, illustrates how to avoid confirmation bias: Ian Shelton, in Chile, was initially skeptical that supernova 1987a was real, but possibly an artifact of instrumentation (null hypothesis), so he went outside and disproved his null hypothesis by observing SN 1987a with the naked eye. The Kamiokande experiment, in Japan, independently observed neutrinos from SN 1987a at the same time.
  18. ^ a b Peirce (1908), "A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God", Hibbert Journal v. 7, pp. 90–112. s:A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God with added notes. Reprinted with previously unpublished part, Collected Papers v. 6, paragraphs 452-85, The Essential Peirce v. 2, pp. 434–50, and elsewhere.
  19. ^ Gauch 2003, p. 3
  20. ^ History of Inductive Science (1837), and in Philosophy of Inductive Science (1840)
  21. ^ Schuster and Powers (2005), Translational and Experimental Clinical Research, Ch. 1. Link. This chapter also discusses the different types of research questions and how they are produced.
  22. ^ This phrasing is attributed to Marshall Nirenberg.
  23. ^ Karl R. Popper, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, Routledge, 2003 ISBN 0-415-28594-1
  24. ^ Lindberg 2007, pp. 2–3: "There is a danger that must be avoided. ... If we wish to do justice to the historical enterprise, we must take the past for what it was. And that means we must resist the temptation to scour the past for examples or precursors of modern science. ...My concern will be with the beginnings of scientific theories, the methods by which they were formulated, and the uses to which they were put; ... "
  25. ^ "How does light travel through transparent bodies? Light travels through transparent bodies in straight lines only.... We have explained this exhaustively in our Book of Optics. But let us now mention something to prove this convincingly: the fact that light travels in straight lines is clearly observed in the lights which enter into dark rooms through holes.... [T]he entering light will be clearly observable in the dust which fills the air. – Alhazen, translated into English from German by M. Schwarz, from "Abhandlung über das Licht", J. Baarmann (ed. 1882) Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft Vol 36 as quoted in Sambursky 1974, p. 136.
    • He demonstrated his conjecture that "light travels through transparent bodies in straight lines only" by placing a straight stick or a taut thread next to the light beam, as quoted in Sambursky 1974, p. 136 to prove that light travels in a straight line.
    • David Hockney, (2001, 2006) in Secret Knowledge: rediscovering the lost techniques of the old masters ISBN 0-14-200512-6 (expanded edition) cites Alhazen several times as the likely source for the portraiture technique using the camera obscura, which Hockney rediscovered with the aid of an optical suggestion from Charles M. Falco. Kitab al-Manazir, which is Alhazen's Book of Optics, at that time denoted Opticae Thesaurus, Alhazen Arabis, was translated from Arabic into Latin for European use as early as 1270. Hockney cites Friedrich Risner's 1572 Basle edition of Opticae Thesaurus. Hockney quotes Alhazen as the first clear description of the camera obscura in Hockney, p. 240.
    "Truth is sought for its own sake. And those who are engaged upon the quest for anything for its own sake are not interested in other things. Finding the truth is difficult, and the road to it is rough." – Alhazen (Ibn Al-Haytham 965 – c. 1040) Critique of Ptolemy, translated by S. Pines, Actes X Congrès internationale d'histoire des sciences, Vol I Ithaca 1962, as quoted in Sambursky 1974, p. 139. (This quotation is from Alhazen's critique of Ptolemy's books Almagest, Planetary Hypotheses, and Optics as translated into English by A. Mark Smith.)
  26. ^ Galilei, Galileo (M.D.C.XXXVIII), Discorsi e Dimonstrazioni Matematiche, intorno a due nuoue scienze, Leida: Apresso gli Elsevirri, ISBN 0-486-60099-8  , Dover reprint of the 1914 Macmillan translation by Henry Crew and Alfonso de Salvio of Two New Sciences, Galileo Galilei Linceo (1638). Additional publication information is from the collection of first editions of the Library of Congress surveyed by Bruno 1989, pp. 261–264.
  27. ^ Godfrey-Smith 2003 p. 236.
  28. ^ a b McCarty1985
  29. ^ October 1951, as noted in McElheny 2004, p. 40:"That's what a helix should look like!" Crick exclaimed in delight (This is the Cochran-Crick-Vand-Stokes theory of the transform of a helix).
  30. ^ June 1952, as noted in McElheny 2004, p. 43: Watson had succeeded in getting X-ray pictures of TMV showing a diffraction pattern consistent with the transform of a helix.
  31. ^ a b Watson did enough work on Tobacco mosaic virus to produce the diffraction pattern for a helix, per Crick's work on the transform of a helix. pp. 137–138, Horace Freeland Judson (1979) The Eighth Day of Creation ISBN 0-671-22540-5
  32. ^ a b – Cochran W, Crick FHC and Vand V. (1952) "The Structure of Synthetic Polypeptides. I. The Transform of Atoms on a Helix", Acta Cryst., 5, 581–586.
  33. ^ a b Friday, January 30, 1953. Tea time, as noted in McElheny 2004, p. 52: Franklin confronts Watson and his paper – "Of course it [Pauling's pre-print] is wrong. DNA is not a helix." However, Watson then visits Wilkins' office, sees photo 51, and immediately recognizes the diffraction pattern of a helical structure. But additional questions remained, requiring additional iterations of their research. For example, the number of strands in the backbone of the helix (Crick suspected 2 strands, but cautioned Watson to examine that more critically), the location of the base pairs (inside the backbone or outside the backbone), etc. One key point was that they realized that the quickest way to reach a result was not to continue a mathematical analysis, but to build a physical model.
  34. ^ a b "The instant I saw the picture my mouth fell open and my pulse began to race." – Watson 1968, p. 167 Page 168 shows the X-shaped pattern of the B-form of DNA, clearly indicating crucial details of its helical structure to Watson and Crick.
    • McElheny 2004 p.52 dates the Franklin-Watson confrontation as Friday, January 30, 1953. Later that evening, Watson urges Wilkins to begin model-building immediately. But Wilkins agrees to do so only after Franklin's departure.
  35. ^ a b Saturday, February 28, 1953, as noted in McElheny 2004, pp. 57–59: Watson found the base pairing mechanism which explained Chargaff's rules using his cardboard models.
  36. ^ Fleck 1979, pp. xxvii–xxviii
  37. ^ "NIH Data Sharing Policy."
  38. ^ Stanovich, Keith E. (2007). How to Think Straight About Psychology. Boston: Pearson Education. pg 123
  39. ^ a b Brody 1993, pp. 44–45
  40. ^ Hall, B. K.; Hallgrímsson, B., eds. (2008). Strickberger's Evolution (4th ed.). Jones & Bartlett. p. 762. ISBN 0-7637-0066-5. 
  41. ^ Cracraft, J.; Donoghue, M. J., eds. (2005). Assembling the tree of life. Oxford University Press. p. 592. ISBN 0-19-517234-5. 
  42. ^ Needham & Wang 1954 p.166 shows how the 'flying gallop' image propagated from China to the West.
  43. ^ "A myth is a belief given uncritical acceptance by members of a group ..." – Weiss, Business Ethics p. 15, as cited by Ronald R. Sims (2003) Ethics and corporate social responsibility: why giants fall p.21
  44. ^ Imre Lakatos (1976), Proofs and Refutations. Taleb 2007, p. 72 lists ways to avoid narrative fallacy and confirmation bias.
  45. ^ For more on the narrative fallacy, see also Fleck 1979, p. 27: "Words and ideas are originally phonetic and mental equivalences of the experiences coinciding with them. ... Such proto-ideas are at first always too broad and insufficiently specialized. ... Once a structurally complete and closed system of opinions consisting of many details and relations has been formed, it offers enduring resistance to anything that contradicts it."
  46. ^ "Invariably one came up against fundamental physical limits to the accuracy of measurement. ... The art of physical measurement seemed to be a matter of compromise, of choosing between reciprocally related uncertainties. ... Multiplying together the conjugate pairs of uncertainty limits mentioned, however, I found that they formed invariant products of not one but two distinct kinds. ... The first group of limits were calculable a priori from a specification of the instrument. The second group could be calculated only a posteriori from a specification of what was done with the instrument. ... In the first case each unit [of information] would add one additional dimension (conceptual category), whereas in the second each unit would add one additional atomic fact.", – pp. 1–4: MacKay, Donald M. (1969), Information, Mechanism, and Meaning, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, ISBN 0-262-63-032-X
  47. ^ See the hypothethico-deductive method, for example, Godfrey-Smith 2003, p. 236.
  48. ^ Jevons 1874, pp. 265–6.
  49. ^ pp. 65,73, 92, 398 – Andrew J. Galambos, Sic Itur ad Astra ISBN 0-88078-004-5(AJG learned scientific method from Felix Ehrenhaft
  50. ^ Galileo 1638, pp. v–xii,1–300
  51. ^ Brody 1993, pp. 10–24 calls this the "epistemic cycle": "The epistemic cycle starts from an initial model; iterations of the cycle then improve the model until an adequate fit is achieved."
  52. ^ Iteration example: Chaldean astronomers such as Kidinnu compiled astronomical data. Hipparchus was to use this data to calculate the precession of the Earth's axis. Fifteen hundred years after Kidinnu, Al-Batani, born in what is now Turkey, would use the collected data and improve Hipparchus' value for the precession of the Earth's axis. Al-Batani's value, 54.5 arc-seconds per year, compares well to the current value of 49.8 arc-seconds per year (26,000 years for Earth's axis to round the circle of nutation).
  53. ^ Recursion example: the Earth is itself a magnet, with its own North and South Poles William Gilbert (in Latin 1600) De Magnete, or On Magnetism and Magnetic Bodies. Translated from Latin to English, selection by Moulton & Schifferes 1960, pp. 113–117. Gilbert created a terrella, a lodestone ground into a spherical shape, which served as Gilbert's model for the Earth itself, as noted in Bruno 1989, p. 277.
  54. ^ "The foundation of general physics ... is experience. These ... everyday experiences we do not discover without deliberately directing our attention to them. Collecting information about these is observation." – Hans Christian Ørsted("First Introduction to General Physics" ¶13, part of a series of public lectures at the University of Copenhagen. Copenhagen 1811, in Danish, printed by Johan Frederik Schulz. In Kirstine Meyer's 1920 edition of Ørsted's works, vol.III pp. 151–190. ) "First Introduction to Physics: the Spirit, Meaning, and Goal of Natural Science". Reprinted in German in 1822, Schweigger's Journal für Chemie und Physik 36, pp. 458–488, as translated in Ørsted 1997, p. 292
  55. ^ "When it is not clear under which law of nature an effect or class of effect belongs, we try to fill this gap by means of a guess. Such guesses have been given the name conjectures or hypotheses." – Hans Christian Ørsted(1811) "First Introduction to General Physics" as translated in Ørsted 1997, p. 297.
  56. ^ "In general we look for a new law by the following process. First we guess it. ...", – Feynman 1965, p. 156
  57. ^ "... the statement of a law – A depends on B – always transcends experience." – Born 1949, p. 6
  58. ^ "The student of nature ... regards as his property the experiences which the mathematician can only borrow. This is why he deduces theorems directly from the nature of an effect while the mathematician only arrives at them circuitously." – Hans Christian Ørsted(1811) "First Introduction to General Physics" ¶17. as translated in Ørsted 1997, p. 297.
  59. ^ Salviati speaks: "I greatly doubt that Aristotle ever tested by experiment whether it be true that two stones, one weighing ten times as much as the other, if allowed to fall, at the same instant, from a height of, say, 100 cubits, would so differ in speed that when the heavier had reached the ground, the other would not have fallen more than 10 cubits." Two New Sciences (1638)Galileo 1638, pp. 61–62. A more extended quotation is referenced by Moulton & Schifferes 1960, pp. 80–81.
  60. ^ In the inquiry-based education paradigm, the stage of "characterization, observation, definition, …" is more briefly summed up under the rubric of a Question
  61. ^ "To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science." – Einstein & Infeld 1938, p. 92.
  62. ^ Crawford S, Stucki L (1990), "Peer review and the changing research record", "J Am Soc Info Science", vol. 41, pp. 223–228
  63. ^ See, e.g., Gauch 2003, esp. chapters 5–8
  64. ^ Cartwright, Nancy (1983), How the Laws of Physics Lie. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-824704-4
  65. ^ Andreas Vesalius, Epistola, Rationem, Modumque Propinandi Radicis Chynae Decocti (1546), 141. Quoted and translated in C.D. O'Malley, Andreas Vesalius of Brussels, (1964), 116. As quoted by Bynum & Porter 2005, p. 597: Andreas Vesalius,597#1.
  66. ^ Crick, Francis (1994), The Astonishing Hypothesis ISBN 0-684-19431-7 p.20
  67. ^ McElheny 2004 p.34
  68. ^ Glen 1994, pp. 37–38.
  69. ^ "The structure that we propose is a three-chain structure, each chain being a helix" – Linus Pauling, as quoted on p. 157 by Horace Freeland Judson (1979), The Eighth Day of Creation ISBN 0-671-22540-5
  70. ^ McElheny 2004, pp. 49–50: January 28, 1953 – Watson read Pauling's pre-print, and realized that in Pauling's model, DNA's phosphate groups had to be un-ionized. But DNA is an acid, which contradicts Pauling's model.
  71. ^ June 1952. as noted in McElheny 2004, p. 43: Watson had succeeded in getting X-ray pictures of TMV showing a diffraction pattern consistent with the transform of a helix.
  72. ^ McElheny 2004 p.68: Nature April 25, 1953.
  73. ^ In March 1917, the Royal Astronomical Society announced that on May 29, 1919, the occasion of a total eclipse of the sun would afford favorable conditions for testing Einstein's General theory of relativity. One expedition, to Sobral, Ceará, Brazil, and Eddington's expedition to the island of Principe yielded a set of photographs, which, when compared to photographs taken at Sobral and at Greenwich Observatory showed that the deviation of light was measured to be 1.69 arc-seconds, as compared to Einstein's desk prediction of 1.75 arc-seconds. – Antonina Vallentin (1954), Einstein, as quoted by Samuel Rapport and Helen Wright (1965), Physics, New York: Washington Square Press, pp 294–295.
  74. ^ Mill, John Stuart, "A System of Logic", University Press of the Pacific, Honolulu, 2002, ISBN 1-4102-0252-6.
  75. ^ al-Battani, De Motu Stellarum translation from Arabic to Latin in 1116, as cited by "Battani, al-" (c. 858 – 929) Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th. ed. Al-Battani is known for his accurate observations at al-Raqqah in Syria, beginning in 877. His work includes measurement of the annual precession of the equinoxes.
  76. ^ McElheny 2004 p.53: The weekend (January 31 – February 1) after seeing photo 51, Watson informed Bragg of the X-ray diffraction image of DNA in B form. Bragg gave them permission to restart their research on DNA (that is, model building).
  77. ^ McElheny 2004 p.54: On Sunday February 8, 1953, Maurice Wilkes gave Watson and Crick permission to work on models, as Wilkes would not be building models until Franklin left DNA research.
  78. ^ McElheny 2004 p.56: Jerry Donohue, on sabbatical from Pauling's lab and visiting Cambridge, advises Watson that textbook form of the base pairs was incorrect for DNA base pairs; rather, the keto form of the base pairs should be used instead. This form allowed the bases' hydrogen bonds to pair 'unlike' with 'unlike', rather than to pair 'like' with 'like', as Watson was inclined to model, on the basis of the textbook statements. On February 27, 1953, Watson was convinced enough to make cardboard models of the nucleotides in their keto form.
  79. ^ "Suddenly I became aware that an adenine-thymine pair held together by two hydrogen bonds was identical in shape to a guanine-cytosine pair held together by at least two hydrogen bonds. ..." – Watson 1968, pp. 194–197.
    • McElheny 2004 p.57 Saturday, February 28, 1953, Watson tried 'like with like' and admitted these base pairs didn't have hydrogen bonds that line up. But after trying 'unlike with unlike', and getting Jerry Donohue's approval, the base pairs turned out to be identical in shape (as Watson stated above in his 1968 Double Helix memoir quoted above). Watson now felt confident enough to inform Crick. (Of course, 'unlike with unlike' increases the number of possible codons, if this scheme were a genetic code.)
  80. ^ See, e.g., Physics Today, 59(1), p42. Richmann electrocuted in St. Petersburg (1753)
  81. ^ Aristotle, "Prior Analytics", Hugh Tredennick (trans.), pp. 181–531 in Aristotle, Volume 1, Loeb Classical Library, William Heinemann, London, UK, 1938.
  82. ^ "What one does not in the least doubt one should not pretend to doubt; but a man should train himself to doubt," said Peirce in a brief intellectual autobiography; see Ketner, Kenneth Laine (2009) "Charles Sanders Peirce: Interdisciplinary Scientist" in The Logic of Interdisciplinarity). Peirce held that actual, genuine doubt originates externally, usually in surprise, but also that it is to be sought and cultivated, "provided only that it be the weighty and noble metal itself, and no counterfeit nor paper substitute"; in "Issues of Pragmaticism", The Monist, v. XV, n. 4, pp. 481–99, see p. 484, and p. 491. (Reprinted in Collected Papers v. 5, paragraphs 438-63, see 443 and 451).
  83. ^ Peirce (1898), "Philosophy and the Conduct of Life", Lecture 1 of the Cambridge (MA) Conferences Lectures, published in Collected Papers v. 1, paragraphs 616-48 in part and in Reasoning and the Logic of Things, Ketner (ed., intro.) and Putnam (intro., comm.), pp. 105–22, reprinted in Essential Peirce v. 2, pp. 27–41.
  84. ^ " ... in order to learn, one must desire to learn ..." – Peirce (1899), "F.R.L." [First Rule of Logic], Collected Papers v. 1, paragraphs 135-40, Eprint
  85. ^ a b c Peirce (1877), "How to Make Our Ideas Clear", Popular Science Monthly, v. 12, pp. 286–302. Reprinted often, including Collected Papers v. 5, paragraphs 388–410, Essential Peirce v. 1, pp. 124–41. ArisbeEprint. Wikisource Eprint.
  86. ^ Peirce (1868), "Some Consequences of Four Incapacities", Journal of Speculative Philosophy v. 2, n. 3, pp. 140–57. Reprinted Collected Papers v. 5, paragraphs 264–317, The Essential Peirce v. 1, pp. 28–55, and elsewhere. Arisbe Eprint
  87. ^ Peirce (1878), "The Doctrine of Chances", Popular Science Monthly v. 12, pp. 604–15, see pp. 610-11 via Internet Archive. Reprinted Collected Papers v. 2, paragraphs 645-68, Essential Peirce v. 1, pp. 142–54. "...death makes the number of our risks, the number of our inferences, finite, and so makes their mean result uncertain. The very idea of probability and of reasoning rests on the assumption that this number is indefinitely great. .... ...logicality inexorably requires that our interests shall not be limited. .... Logic is rooted in the social principle."
  88. ^ Peirce (c. 1906), "PAP (Prolegomena for an Apology to Pragmatism)" (Manuscript 293, not the like-named article), The New Elements of Mathematics (NEM) 4:319–320, see first quote under "Abduction" at Commens Dictionary of Peirce's Terms.
  89. ^ Peirce, Carnegie application (L75, 1902), New Elements of Mathematics v. 4, pp. 37–38:

    For it is not sufficient that a hypothesis should be a justifiable one. Any hypothesis which explains the facts is justified critically. But among justifiable hypotheses we have to select that one which is suitable for being tested by experiment.

  90. ^ a b Peirce (1902), Carnegie application, see MS L75.329–330, from Draft D of Memoir 27:

    Consequently, to discover is simply to expedite an event that would occur sooner or later, if we had not troubled ourselves to make the discovery. Consequently, the art of discovery is purely a question of economics. The economics of research is, so far as logic is concerned, the leading doctrine with reference to the art of discovery. Consequently, the conduct of abduction, which is chiefly a question of heuretic and is the first question of heuretic, is to be governed by economical considerations.

  91. ^ Peirce (1903), "Pragmatism – The Logic of Abduction", Collected Papers v. 5, paragraphs 195–205, especially 196. Eprint.
  92. ^ Peirce, "On the Logic of Drawing Ancient History from Documents", Essential Peirce v. 2, see pp. 107–9. On Twenty Questions, p. 109:

    Thus, twenty skillful hypotheses will ascertain what 200,000 stupid ones might fail to do.

  93. ^ Peirce (1878), "The Probability of Induction", Popular Science Monthly, v. 12, pp. 705–18, see 718 Google Books; 718 via Internet Archive. Reprinted often, including (Collected Papers v. 2, paragraphs 669-93), (The Essential Peirce v. 1, pp. 155–69).
  94. ^ Peirce (1905 draft "G" of "A Neglected Argument"), "Crude, Quantitative, and Qualitative Induction", Collected Papers v. 2, paragraphs 755–760, see 759. Find under "Induction" at Commens Dictionary of Peirce's Terms.
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  168. ^ "Philosophy [i.e., physics] is written in this grand book – I mean the universe – which stands continually open to our gaze, but it cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language and interpret the characters in which it is written. It is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometrical figures, without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it; without these, one is wandering around in a dark labyrinth." – Galileo Galilei, Il Saggiatore (The Assayer, 1623), as translated by Stillman Drake (1957), Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo pp. 237–8, as quoted by di Francia 1981, p. 10.
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References

Further reading

External links