Pure Science - The seeking of information for its own sake. The pursuit of knowledge for the sake of knowledge.
...and even within these subdisciplines there are still more specific areas of study.
Scientists all start their work by making observations and noticing interesting things. That's what you did when you went out and took pictures.
Which brings us to two ways of thinking.
Inductive Reasoning is sometimes called the "from the bottom up" approach. When we use inductive reasoning, our specific observations and measurements may begin to show us a general pattern. This might allow us to formulate a tentative hypothesis that can be further explored, and we might finally end up making some general conclusions.
In this case, one might construct an argument like so:
One potential pitfall here is the "inductive leap": When you make the jump from many specific observations to a general observation, your generalization might not be correct every time.
Although generalizations are certainly useful, the wise scientist is always aware that there may be exceptions to a general rule, and even to the possibility that the "general rule" might eventually be found to be wrong more often than not.
And that's where Deductive Reasoning comes in. Deductive Reasoning is sometimes called the "from the top down" approach. In this case, we start with a general idea and work down to the more specific.
Deductive reasoning is used to test existing theories and hypotheses (general ideas) by collecting experimental observations (specific examples) that put those ideas to the test. One of the most useful ways to use this method is to construct a syllogism, a specific type of argument that has three simple steps:
How do you find out? Well, this experiment might be kind of painful. But you get the idea.
The results of your study may suggest further experiments. (What types of hymenopterans don't have stingers? Why has this evolved?)
In this, science is very different from FAITH, which accepts the existence of things that cannot be observed or considered to be indisputable facts.
Examples: The Laws of Thermodynamics
Religion is based upon faith in things that cannot be seen or tested. Most religions have specific dogma. Dogma is established belief or doctrine held by a religion (or other organization) that is believed by followers and not to be disputed, doubted, challenged or revised.
Good science is not based on dogma. Even well-established and sometimes dearly held scientific ideas must be set aside if new experimental evidence suggests that they were wrong, or need to be revised.
The Scientific Method is a set of rules followed by researchers/investigators in the natural sciences.
Eminent German philosopher Karl Popper introduced in his famous essay, Science as Falsification, the method modern scientists use.
A hypothesis must be subject to falsification to be truly powerful.
A hypothesis repeatedly supported, but never challenged, is WEAK.
2. Before you begin, arm yourself with predictions about what you think will happen if you test the hypothesis.
3. Design careful, rigorous experiments to put each hypothesis to the test.
4. Carefully analyze the results.
5. Decide whether the results support or refute the hypothesis you are testing.
6. If you have multiple hypotheses, this process continues until one hypothesis is the "last man standing".
7. The hypotheses that are not falsified by experimental testing are provisionally accepted as potential explanations for the observation.
A very simple example:
But the scientist always must be open to the possibility that an unrefuted hypothesis may, at some point, be proven wrong.
In the example above, it's easy to see that dipping a net into the ocean isn't a very high-tech way to address this problem. But with more advanced technology such as
You might well be able to refute the "no fish" hypothesis. Science marches on as technology improves.
One can liken a hypothesis to a castle or fortress...
It may look well built from the outside, and seem to be perfectly sound.
You may be able to add more blocks with mortar (evidence that supports your hypothesis),
but until you test your "castle" by actually attacking it...
...you don't really know how much of it will stand up to attack.
If the hypothesis isn't correct, it may end up looking something like this:
But in science, that's okay. It just means "back to the drawing board."
Science isn't always about being right.
Science is about seeking the truth.
The Scientific Method usually consists of the following steps...
You must now devise your experimental hypotheses, which are mutually exclusive. These are the
Here's a complete overview of how to write a scientific paper.
Now let's see how well we can apply the scientific method to The Mystery of the Glass Frogs.