A Refresher On The Scientific Method

This really shouldn’t be necessary; everyone in the Western world should be well-acquainted with the scientific method. Sadly, however, we’ve either forgotten or, if my fears are correct, may never have been taught about it in our public school system. So, for those of us who have forgotten, or for the sake of those who were never taught, this is what the scientific method is and how it works.

I took this from “The World Book Encyclopedia,”1973, pg 167.

I used this source for two reasons. First, it comes from a time when our society was still anchored to rational reality. Second, as a picture of a hard-copy book, it cannot be easily altered. This is important as ‘They’ have started to alter definitions in real time. They just go into the website or pdf or kindle book on your machine and change the text without ever telling you that they changed things, or what they changed. And, please, don’t doubt me on this one. The gentleman who goes by the name, ‘A0moly,’ on Facebook, already did a video showing them changing the definition of ‘Fascism’ to suit their political agenda, and he shows how they did it in real time. So, if you think I am being dishonest about the risk of having things changed on you, please, look into it for yourself.

OK, back to the scientific method. First, it is just that: a method of researching a specific phenomenon for the purposes of better understanding it and predicting its behavior under a given number of circumstances. Like any specialty branch of logic, it is neutral, and can be conducted properly or improperly. And, like all other forms of logic, it is susceptible to being misused for nefarious purposes. It is important that we never forget this as, for too many people, the idea of ‘science’ carries the mistaken notion of ‘infallible fact.’ The truth of the matter is, science has never and will never establish anything as ‘fact’ — because it can’t. That is outside of its abilities. All science does is give us a probability of certitude and nothing more.

Now, with that said, let’s look at the five general parts to this method:

1 — Stating the problem.

2 — Forming a hypothesis.

3 — Observing and experimenting.

4 — Interpreting the data.

5 — Drawing conclusions.

Stating the Problem:

This is the step where the ‘scientist’ notices a phenomenon which he/she wishes to examine further, either to better understand or predict how that phenomenon will behave under different sets of circumstance.

Forming a Hypothesis (i.e. educated guess):

At this point, the ‘scientist’ forms an hypothesis (or, educated guess) as to why the phenomenon is or behaves the way he/she has observed, or as to how the phenomenon might behave under different circumstance.

Observing and Experimenting:

In this step, the ‘scientist’ usually conducts experiments to gather more information about the nature and behavior of the phenomenon being studied.

Interpreting the Data:

In this phase, the ‘scientist’ tries to make sense of the data collected as a result of testing.

Drawing Conclusions:

Finally, the ‘scientist’ uses the data he/she collected to determine whether or not it supports his/her hypothesis.

That’s right! There is more to the scientific method. This time, let’s look at the places and ways where we can get things wrong.

Stating the Problem:

We are all human (well, most of us are, anyway — given the events of 2020, some of us may be lizard people). This means we all have personal biases. Guess what? If you do not know how to control for those personal biases, they will (not might, will) cause you to see things in a way that does not reflect reality. Personal biases can come from religious beliefs, political beliefs, or something as simple as greed or economic pressures. Learning how to control for personal bias takes a great deal of training and personal discipline. At times, it can also require a great deal of moral courage. Additionally, this training and discipline must be maintained, as they are not one of those things we can learn once and never have to worry about again. You have to constantly control for bias, and at every step of the scientific method. Otherwise, you are going to be doomed from the start because you are going to start from flawed observations and assumptions — which means your statement of the problem will be all wrong.

Forming a Hypothesis (i.e. educated guess):

Forming an hypothesis is the point where we gather all the data we already know about the phenomenon in question. Then we look for what we know about anything that may be closely related to or associated with the phenomenon. After gathering as much information as we can on the phenomenon, we form an hypothesis (make an educated guess) as to why the phenomenon is or behaves the way it does, or how the phenomenon will react under a given set of circumstances.

This is a perilous process: especially if the researcher holds a bias that causes them to accept false assumptions or reject factual observations. This is a very real threat, and it happens more often than we might expect. Once again, this is why we have to guard against our personal biases getting in the way of our seeing clearly.

Observing and Experimenting:

At this point, we design and conduct experiments to gather more data on the nature or behavior of the phenomenon in question. We must take great care to test and re-test the design of our experiments. They must be designed in a way that will accurately test our hypothesis, but also, be free from any influences caused by bias. Our tests should actually measure what we are trying to study, and they must be repeatable. Others should be able to follow behind us using our tests and methods and achieve the same results.

We also have to guard against our biases when we conduct our tests. It is not enough to design a bias-free test, we have to run the test without bias, as well. Otherwise, we run the risk of skewing the test result and corrupting our data. For this reason, designing and conducting experimentation is one of the hardest places to control personal bias and, therefore, one of the places ‘scientists’ most often go off track.

Interpreting the Data:

Interpreting the data is probably the step with the highest risk of bias contamination. This is because most people get invested in their work, so they have a personal interest in seeing their work affirmed. Naturally, this desire to be ‘right’ causes all but the most disciplined researchers to find affirmation of their hypothesis in their data. We also have to be very careful that we allow for alternate assumptions that may be drawn from our data. It is just as likely that we will actually disprove our hypothesis as prove it — and even then, we don’t really ‘prove’ anything. We merely determine a percentage of certainty of a given characteristic or behavior. Therefore, once again, we must be extra careful to guard against personal bias when analyzing the data from our testing.

Drawing Conclusions:

Finally, drawing conclusions. This is just another point where personal bias can get us sideways. If we are not careful, we might actually throw away a carefully designed and properly conducted test because we disagree with or do not like the data it revealed. Believe it or not, this has happened in the past — many times.

A Final Consideration:

‘Science’ never proves anything, because it can’t. That is not what it is designed to do, and advances in science constantly testify to this fact. Where once we were certain the atom was the smallest particle of matter, we later learned it was definitely protons neutrons and electrons, only to learn we were mistaken — again. Then there were quarks and leptons and other sub-atomic particles. The point here is, each time, ‘science’ was certain it had proved what it knew as ‘fact’ — but it had not. Subsequent discoveries forced ‘science’ to change what it knew.

The same thing applies to actions or events. ‘Science’ can provide a percentage of certainty, but nothing more. It cannot prove the sun will come up tomorrow. However unlikely it may seem, it is within the realm of possibility that an un-detected asteroid large enough to shatter the earth could strike the planet and destroy it before sunrise tomorrow. This is an extreme example, I know, but it is also an easy one to understand (which is why I used it).

The point here is simple: no matter what we may be told or think about it, ‘science’ is not capable of proving anything as a fact. It merely describes observed phenomenon and provides a percentage of certainty that the observation, action or prediction are accurate.

OK, let’s wrap up this little lesson. What have we learned?

1 — The scientific method is just that — a method designed to help us conduct accurate research.

2 — The scientific method is vulnerable to personal bias that can skew the entire process.

3 — Even if conducted perfectly, the scientific method can never prove anything. All it can give us is a probability of a given action/reaction.

REAL WORLD EXAMPLE:

OK, let’s look at a real-world example that will demonstrate why our misunderstanding of ‘science’ can be dangerous. Let’s look at the issue of global warming.

THE CLIMATE-CHANGE ARGUMENT:

Stating the Problem:

The ‘settled science’ claims that the earth’s climate is changing for the worse.

Forming a Hypothesis (i.e. educated guess):

The hypothesis is that Man’s activities are causing the current change, and that these changes are having a negative effect on the planet.

Observing and Experimenting:

Predictive weather models have been constructed to demonstrate that Man is negatively affecting the change in earth’s climate.

Interpreting the Data:

Observed data supports the hypothesis.

Drawing Conclusions:

Man is negatively affecting earth’s climate, and we must do something to repair the damage he has caused.

OBJECTIONS TO THE CLIMATE-CHANGE ARGUMENT:

Stating the Problem:

1 — Previously, the same people claimed that the earth was cooling, but they failed to prove it.

2 — Then the same people claimed the earth was warming, and failed to prove it.

3 — Finally, they changed to an observation that makes as much sense as stating water is wet: that the earth’s climate is changing. Yes, we know. It has been changing ever since the climate formed.

Forming a Hypothesis (i.e. educated guess):

1 — Before testing, an hypothesis can be neither right or wrong, so — OK.

Observing and Experimenting:

1 — One must be able to test a phenomenon before data can be collected or conclusions drawn.

2 — The Climate Change Camp has never actually conducted a test.

3 — They use predictive models they designed and compare their predictions to observed weather data in place of actual testing. This is one level removed from sound scientific practices.

4 — The models that are being used cannot possibly know the base-line parameters necessary to any model being accurate. At a minimum, these parameters would include: 1). the median temperature of the earth since at least the time mammals appeared in the fossil record, so we can establish the earth’s ‘normal’ temperature. 2). The highest and lowest temperatures of the earth during this same period, so we can establish what a ‘fever’ and a ‘cold’ are in earth terms. 3). The mechanism by which the climate changed during this period, so that we can separate natural change from that due to the activities of Man. 4). The frequency between climatic changes, so that we can determine where we are currently in the cycle of climate changes.

5 — These measures cannot possibly be known as no one can travel back in time to ascertain accurate measurements to plug into the predictive models.

6 — The data used in place of actual measurements comes from assumptions used in the measuring of temperature using ice cores and rocks, etc. This represents a third and fourth level of separation from the scientific method: one for the need to use ice cores, and the other for the assumptions inherent in the use of those ice cores.

7 — The hypothesis assumes climate change is detrimental, and allows for no control, or possibility that it might well be beneficial to the planet and life on earth.

Interpreting the Data:

1 — The data being accepted is often taken from compromised locations, like the center of a city in the middle of the day, on a roof, from an un-shielded thermometer.

2 — The data has been known to be intentionally falsified.

3 — The data often does not meet the predictive results according to the models.

Drawing Conclusions:

1 — The conclusion has been asserted that Man is causing detrimental climate change.

2 — This assertion falsely claims to be based on ‘science.’

3 — The solutions are always a political plan that would raise taxes to — essentially — dismantle the global free market.

4 — It has not been demonstrated the recommended remedies will have a high likelihood of achieving climate change reversal.

5 — It has not been demonstrated that it is desirable to reverse any perceived or measured climate change.

6 — The ‘science’ behind the Climate Change argument is three times removed from the scientific method, based on faulty, questionable and demonstrably false data and results in a coarse of action that has not been demonstrated to be desirable, or to have a high probability of success.

Do you see the very real problems with the way ‘science’ is used in this world? I sure hope so, because this is an accurate portrayal of how ‘science’ is being used to affect a total re-making of the political and economic structures of the world. What’s more, you and I are perfectly capable of figuring all this out on our own. We do not need to be ‘scientists,’ or ‘experts.’ This is all common sense (a.k.a. basic logic).

This is why we should all remember what the scientific method is, how it works and what it can and cannot do. That way, they can’t use it to lie to, scare or manipulate you into accepting something that is actually harmful to you and your family.

One thought on “A Refresher On The Scientific Method

  1. Unfortunately, this change has been in the works for decades. I was fighting this since I was in school. It was ok for awhile because there was still the culture to live and let live. We used to be able to use the scientific method to argue points. The ignorant preen themselves with their ‘I believe in science’ comb not realizing that that statement is simply a statement of a different kind of faith. It’s no longer useful to use logic. I think we have to learn how to use emotional arguments. Which is something I am very lousy at.

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