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Science is a method to discover empirical truths and patterns. Roughly speaking, the scientific method consists of
2) Forming a hypothesis
3) Testing the hypothesis and
4) Interpreting the data to confirm or disconfirm the hypothesis.
The beauty of science is that any scientific claim can be tested if you have the proper knowledge and equipment.
You can also use the scientific method to solve everyday problems: 1) Observe and clearly define the problem, 2) Form a hypothesis, 3) Test it, and 4) Confirm the hypothesis... or disconfirm it and start over.
So, the next time you are cursing in traffic or emotionally reacting to a problem, take a few deep breaths and then use this rational and scientific approach. Slow down, observe, hypothesize, and test.
Explain how you would solve these problems using the four steps of the scientific process.
Example: The fire alarm is not working.
1) Observe/Define the problem: it does not beep when I push the button.
2) Hypothesis: it is caused by a dead battery.
3) Test: try a new battery.
4) Confirm/Disconfirm: the alarm now works. If it does not work, start over by testing another hypothesis like “it has a loose wire.”
- My car will not start.
- My child is having problems reading.
- I owe $20,000, but only make $10 an hour.
- My boss is mean. I want him/her to stop using rude language towards me.
- My significant other is lazy. I want him/her to help out more.
6-8. Identify three problems where you can apply the scientific method.
*Answers will vary.
Application and Value
Science is more of a process than a body of knowledge. In our daily lives, we often emotionally react and jump to quick solutions when faced with problems, but following the four steps of the scientific process can help us slow down and discover more intelligent solutions.
In your study of philosophy, you will explore deeper questions about science. For example, are there any forms of knowledge that are nonscientific? Can science tell us what we ought to do? Can logical and mathematical truths be proven in a scientific way? Does introspection give knowledge even though I cannot scientifically observe your introspective thoughts? Is science truly objective? These are challenging questions that should help you discover the scope of science without diminishing its awesome power.
But the first step in answering these questions is knowing what science is, and this chapter clarifies its essence. Again, Science is not so much a body of knowledge as it is a method of observing, hypothesizing, and testing. This method is what all the sciences have in common.
Perhaps too science should involve falsifiability, which is a concept explored in the next chapter.