The Scientific Method

The Scientific Method
 “Science is best defined as a careful, disciplined, logical search for knowledge about any and all aspects of the universe, obtained by examination of the best available evidence and always subject to correction and improvement upon discovery of better evidence. What's left is magic - and magic doesn't work.” (James Randi)

The Scientific Method
 A better approach to magic is to do experiments and perform careful observations.  The results of this approach are universal in the sense that they can be reproduced by any skeptic.

What is the “Scientific Method”?
 The scientific method is the best way yet discovered for winnowing the truth from lies and delusion. The simple version looks something like this:



hypothesis not consistent? modify hypothesis tests


What is the “Scientific Method”?
 Advantage of the scientific method.
• Results are unprejudiced. • Results are repeatable.

 Which means that.
• Conclusions are testable.

What is the “Scientific Method”?
 The conclusions will hold irrespective of the state of mind, or the religious persuasion, or the state of consciousness of the investigator and/or the subject of the investigation.

What is the “Scientific Method”?
 Faith, defined as:-

“belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence”,
does not determine whether a scientific theory is adopted or discarded.

Scientific Laws, Hypotheses, and Theories
Layman’s Terms Lacks credibilit y

“Just a Theory” A mere Guess


Scientific Law:
 A statement of fact.  Explains an action or set of actions.  Accepted to be true and universal.  Can be a single mathematical equation.

Scientific Law:
 Some scientific laws.
• Law of gravity, • Law of thermodynamics, • Hooke’s law of elasticity.

Isaac Newton’s Inspiration

Nothing yet, how about you Newton!

 Educated guess.  Based upon observation.  Rational explanation of a phenomenon.  Not been proved.  Supported / refuted by experimentation.

Johannes Kepler’s Uphill Battle
So you see, the orbit of a planet is elliptical What’s an orbit? What’s a planet? What’s elliptical ?

 Explanation of a set of related observations.  Based upon proven hypotheses.  Verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers.

Scientific Laws, Hypotheses, and Theories
 So, what’s the difference between a “Law” and a “Theory”
• Both are accepted to be true by the

scientific community. events.

• Both are used to make predictions of • Both are used to advance technology.

Scientific Laws, Hypotheses, and Theories
 A theory is much more complex and dynamic  A theory explains a whole series of related phenomena.  A law governs a single action.

Scientific Laws, Hypotheses, and Theories
 Some scientific theories.
• The theory of evolution. • The theory of relativity. • Quantum theory.

 These theories are well documented and proved beyond reasonable doubt.

 Harris, S (2005) “Johannes Kepler’s uphill battle”  Larson, G (2005) “Newton’s Inspiration”  Wudka, J (2005) “The Scientific Method”, .html,viewed on Oct 7th  Wilson, J (2005) “Scientific Laws, Hypotheses & Theories”,, viewed Oct 7th  Video Clips taken from “Friends” Episode 3 Season 2, 1996, “The one where Mr. Heckles dies”

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