What’s Wrong With the Scientific Method?

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    Apr 05, 2013 4:45 AM GMT
    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/04/whats-wrong-with-the-scientific-method/
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    Apr 05, 2013 8:22 PM GMT
    What a stupid article.
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    Apr 05, 2013 9:57 PM GMT
    Edit: I just realized this article was published on April Fool's Day. I wonder if the author was trolling everyone hard. If not, either way, that article was teh lulz icon_lol.gif

    The version of the scientific method I use frequently (in my grad school training and in my current job) goes as follows:
    1) Start with a problem, question, or an observation
    2) Devise a hypothesis to explain the problem, question, or observation.
    3) Design and perform an experiment(s) to test your hypothesis or to answer your question.
    4) Collect data
    5) Interpret data and form conclusions. If the data supports your hypothesis, pat yourself on the back. If it doesn't, revise your hypothesis (and repeat the rest of the steps) and/or revise your experiment(s) (and repeat the rest of the steps).

    Every item the author mentions can fit into this basic scheme in one way or another...

    In 1928 Alexander Fleming accidentally left a cover off a petri dish used to cultivate bacteria. The plate was contaminated by a mold that contained penicillin. In this case, there was no problem or question to start with. It was an accident.

    In Alexander Fleming's famous accidental discovery of penicillin, he made the observation that the bacteria in that petri dish had trouble growing in proximity to the mold (step 1). He probably then hypothesized that something about the mold (a biochemical, perhaps?) kept the bacteria from growing (step 2). Follow steps 3-5 from there...

    Albert Michelson and Edward Morley built an experiment to measure the motion of the Earth through the aether (the material that people believed light traveled through). The idea was to measure the speed of light as the Earth moved in different directions. Alas, they found that the speed of light was the same in all directions.

    Michaelson and Morley's question was actually the credibility of the then-currently-held theory of aether (step 1). So they devised an experiment that would put the then-current theory to the test. Follow steps 3-5

    Beta decay is a type of radioactive process where a nucleus produces either an electron or a positron. The problem was that these electrons could have a range of energies. This just didn’t make sense if they came from the same process – energy should be constant. This lead to the discovery of the neutrino.

    An observation was made that did not quite "fit" the then-current model...this was problematic (step 1). Follow steps 2-5

    Look at just about any astronomy “experiment”. Most of the cool things in astronomy are also discovered and then a model is created. So, the question comes second.

    I'm not an astronomer by any count, but I'd wager that most of the cool astronomy "discoveries" began as "observations" (eg. someone spots something new in the night sky) that are followed by questions (eg. "What is it?"). Follow steps 3-5

    The author's simplified model at the bottom of the article fits perfectly with the scientific method (at least the version I use). What is dangerous is suggesting to remove the methodology because it can remove objectivity.
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    Apr 05, 2013 10:06 PM GMT
    For an interesting discourse on scientific method and hypothesis-forming, try "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert M. Pirsig.
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    Apr 05, 2013 10:23 PM GMT
    riddler78 saidWhat’s Wrong With the Scientific Method?
    God said it sucks because he gets totally left out and feels all alone and depressed and shit.
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    Apr 05, 2013 10:30 PM GMT
    paulflexes said
    riddler78 saidWhat’s Wrong With the Scientific Method?
    God said it sucks because he gets totally left out and feels all alone and depressed and shit.


    This is great!
    Religion-----none of them-----meet the standards of testing via the scientific method. Nor do "miracles", psychics, etc.
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    Apr 05, 2013 10:51 PM GMT
    Sungod17 saidFor an interesting discourse on scientific method and hypothesis-forming, try "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert M. Pirsig.


    I read that book when I was a teenager. I remember that I skimmed through all the boring, scientific stuff to get to the parts about the motorcycle.
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    Apr 05, 2013 10:58 PM GMT
    Sungod17 saidFor an interesting discourse on scientific method and hypothesis-forming, try "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert M. Pirsig.


    Mind control....loathe.........icon_mad.gif