By DeMarcus Thomas
September 11, 2012
What is the scientific method? The scientific method is a method for problem solving that has been used for generations. It is the best method for winnowing the truth from lies and delusion (Collins, 2012). The scientific method has been used for ages to solve the mysteries of the universe. Though we are not aware of it we use this method more often than we think. Consider this seemingly simple scenario. You arrive home late at night. You walk up to the front door, unlock it, and reach in to turn on the light switch located just inside the front door. The light does not come on! Now what? You may not know this but you will use the scientific method to solve this problem. You may also not know that you use the scientific method to solve lots of everyday problems. It has become so simple to use that it is done every day. Even if you simply solved this problem by changing the light bulb or checking the circuit breaker box the scientific method was employed in some way. Step one of the scientific method is observation. The first thing I would do is look and see if there are other electronic devices off. Based on the observations you make you can determine what the next step should be. If there are other electronic devices on then you can begin to hypothesize where your problem lies. Your observations are the most important thing in this process because what you do not know is what you are trying to figure out subsequently the more you observe the more you will know. A hypothesis is a proposition, or set of propositions, set forth as an explanation for the occurrence of some specified group of phenomena, either asserted merely as a provisional conjecture to guide investigation (working hypothesis) or accepted as highly probable in the light of established facts (Collins, 2012). Based on the clues you have like no response from the light switch or whether other electronic devices are working, you can formulate a hypothesis as to what may be the problem. This is the time when a person uses the word “maybe”. For example, maybe there is a problem with the circuit breaker, or maybe the light bulb needs to be changed. What is most important about the hypothesis is that it is based on facts. It would easy to hypothesize that aliens teleported down and used their electromagnetic pulse rays to disable the circuit that powers that light switch but there are no facts to support that hypothesis. After you have formulated a hypothesis it is time to test it and see if you are correct. This step of the process is called experimentation. For example, if we hypothesize that the light bulb needs to be changed, we can test this hypothesis by replacing the light bulb and turning on the light switch. Since a hypothesis is only a guess it is possible to have many and with experimentation you can fine tune your hypothesis until you reach a proper conclusion. Subsequently if changing the light bulb didn’t work we can formulate another hypothesis. After we have revised our hypothesis we can experiment again until we get the desired results. Experimentation is critical to the scientific method because it is what turns your hypothesis and educated guesses into facts and truths. Sometimes your experiments will yield results that do not disprove your hypothesis yet does not prove your hypothesis is true. For example, you decide to change the light bulb and tried the switch again but there is no change in the result or difference in reaction. Does this mean that the light bulb could not be a problem? No, it is very possible that something could have happened to that circuit and the surge in electricity overloaded the light bulb. Nevertheless it will not work without another bulb. Be sure to carefully observe your results otherwise your experiments will yield fallacies. Fallacies are an often plausible argument using false or invalid inference (Collins, 2012). This could affect your results in big...
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