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The Scientific Method

What is the Scientific Method?

There are many misconceptions about the scientific method and it's important to understand exactly what I mean when I refer to it throughout this website.

The term "scientific method" should not be confused with "science" itself. The word scientific in this case refers to the method being used, not the situation it is being used in. It is simply a process, a technique of obtaining the most accurate answers possible. Despite it's obvious links with science, it can be useful in virtually any area of study in which questions are asked and explanations sought, from human relationships to deciding which washing powder to buy.

The scientific method is often assumed to be cold, impersonal, or lacking the "human element". In a way this is quite true since the method strives to distance itself from personal bias. However, as a tool, it offers much more than sterile data. It encourages imagination and creativity, and helps us to ask new questions. It's a way of thinking about the world in which we exist, and a way to search for meaning in that existence. It certainly isn't the final word in advancing understanding, but it's strengths have been demonstrated over centuries of human culture.

Frame of Reference

Like pretty much everything else in the world, the scientific method requires a frame of reference to work from. We need to make certain assumptions in order to create a workable system. I consider these axioms to be fair and reasonable:

  • The universe exits and it's real. It's not a dream.
  • The observations we make with our senses and other aids are real. If we look through a telescope and see a star, the star is really there.
  • The universe obeys certain laws of physics, even though some of those laws may be beyond our understanding.

Of course I could be wrong on any of these counts, but if that's true then there would be no way of knowing. It would also mean that there is no point in trying to understand the universe - a very dull prospect. In any case, this is the frame of reference I have chosen to use.

Next Page: Steps of the Scientific Method