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Advantages of the Scientific Method

By yasmin1994 Jun 05, 2012 800 Words
One advantage of the Scientific method is that it’s replicable. Scientists record their methods and standardise them carefully so as the same procedures can be followed in the future. Investigations are carried out in highly controlled, objective laboratory and repeated to gain further reliability. This is an advantage because repeated a study is the most important way to demonstrate the validity of an experiment. If the results of the repeated experiment are the same, then this affirms the truth of the original results. An example of replication being used in a study is Milgrams. An issue with Milgrams study was its ecological validity. His 1963 experiment was repeated numerous times. One of these replications was Sheridon and King; where they tested obedience on the puppies. Though this was only a replication of the method, not of the participants. Another example is Burger who replicated Milgrams findings in 2009, but he took into account the ethical issues and did not allow participants to shock beyond 150 volts. His replication demonstrates time validity, and both these replications support the validity of Milgrams study, and suggests it does have ecological validly as they produced similar results each time.

Another advantage of the scientific method is that it’s empirical. Empirical data is gained through direct observation or experiment rather than by reasoned argument or unfounded beliefs; as the scientific aims to collect facts. This is an advantage because people can make claims about the truth of a theory, or the benefits of a treatment, but the only way we know such things are true is through empirical evidence. So you may think you know something, but unless you test this empirically you can’t know if it is true or not. For example, if someone claims that a new drug reduces anxiety, then we do an experiment to test the drug to see if it actually does reduce anxiety.

The scientific method being objective is an important aspect of empirical data; so they are not affected by the expectations of the researcher. This is an advantage because without objectivity, we have no way of being certain that the data collected is valid. An example of objectivity in the scientific method is Loftus and Palmers 1974 experiment; which was objective as quantitative data, estimates, were generated for each verb condition, and the data was easier to analyse. Gardner and Gardner’s 1969 study is another example of an objective experiment. The experimenters might have judged that Washoe was using real words simply because they wanted her to succeed; which would mean that they were being subjective. So for that reason, they made the experiment more objective by developing a strict set of criteria to make judgements. An experimenter would allow for greater objectivity by standardising the procedures and instructions.

Another example of the scientific method is that it’s falsifiable. The aim of the scientific method is to test hypotheses by falsifying them; rejecting the null hypothesis. This is an advantage because it’s not possible to prove a hypothesis correct but you can prove it wrong and falsify it. The major objection to Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis is the lack of proof and that it’s difficult to falsify. For instance, his theory view that all men have repressed homosexual tendencies can’t be disproved. If you do find men who have no homosexual tendencies then you could argue that they’re simply so repressed that they are not apparent. Another example is Popper 1935 who argued that falsification is the only way to be certain. He said “no amount of observations of white swans can allow the inference that all swans are white, but the observation of a single black swan is sufficient to refute that conclusion.” So in other words, you can’t prove a theory is right, you can only falsify a theory.

The last advantage of the scientific method is that it is controlled. The ideal form of the scientific method is a lab experiment because it enables the researcher to demonstrate causal relationships. The experimental method is the only way to do this; where one factor is varied; the independent variable, and observe its effects on the dependant variable. In order for it to be a fair test, all other conditions must be controlled, and the best place for this is in a lab setting. This is an advantage because if we can’t demonstrate causal relationships then we can’t be sure. Loftus and Palmers 1974 experiment was controlled as they showed the same video clips to all the participants, the experiment was taken place in the same room, and all the participants had the same critical question. Because the experiment was controlled, we can be sure that the estimates of speed were affected by the difference in verb, and it’s difficult to justify any other conclusion.

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