Why is the scientific method important to follow?

1 Answer
Jan 14, 2016

Because if you follow this method it helps prevent you from thinking things what ain't so.


Anyone can make a mistake. It is too easy to make assumptions, to believe what you want to believe, to ignore data that conflict with what you think. And as human beings, scientists can be all too guilty of these errors.

The scientific method is a way to prevent these mistakes. It doesn't always work, but it demonstrably has had some successes. So firstly observe phenomena; what is happening? Secondly, ask questions; why is that occurring the way that it is? Thirdly, formulate an hypothesis; this is what I think is happening. Fourthly, develop a testable prediction; if this is true for A, will it be true for B? Fifthly, do experiments to test your prediction; is it true for B, and C, and D? Sixthly, was it true? If yes, then develop an hypothesis by generalization. Seventh (perhaps most importantly!); attempt to falsify your hypothesis. Here, you ask the questions, #"what experiments could I (and others) do, and what results"# #"would I anticipate, that would show my analysis and"# #"understanding to be faulty?"#

If you can do all these things and still have a handle on and an understanding of results, then formulate a theory and book a flight to Stockholm. The scientific method thus relies on experiment; it is not performed in isolation. You may draw a particular conclusion from a set of experimental results, which MAY be different to the conclusion reached by another researcher. Nevertheless, your experimental results, and that of the other researcher, should substantially agree.