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Scientific Method (The Greatest Invention)

PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:47 am
by Dave Z
I'm taking the liberty, in this sub-topic, of returning to the chapter focus from The Knowledge (rather than the thought experiment posed by Dr. Dartnell in his ReadMe post).

To my mind, the Scientific Method is the Greatest Invention. The seed of all the rest.

It took thousands of years to work out. It is still not 'codified' in a widely accepted form, much less in a form intended for transmission across Calamity and/or subsequent Dark Ages.

Various supplemental assumptions (such as subject/object distinction) are at once assumed and challenged in modern science; tradiitional 'hard' sciences maintains the distinction, while (quantum) physics, social and neurological sciences challenge it. In either case, observation is fundamental, and often overlooked in formulations of SM.

So I pose the following questions for discussion:

  • What elements are essential to the Scientific Method?
  • What assumptions need to be made explicit? Is Occam's Razor one of these?
  • Could or should it be combined with one or a few 'single sentence' type kickstarter(s)?
    And if so, which one(s).
  • How best to express all of this for near term survivors? How about long term beginners? Same or different?
  • Anything else I missed?

To my mind, a successful formulation comprises the heart ofThe Knowledge, the core framework upon which all else can be hung. It's form would be a model for all the rest. This is where I'd start.

Dave Z

Re: Scientific Method (The Greatest Invention): Flowcharts

PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:34 am
by Dave Z
Image searching "scientific method flowchart" I came across three that seemed fairly clear and typical. Seems like a good place to start discussion.

Flow charts strike me as a viable option, whose chief value is that connections are expressed graphically rather than vie somewhat obfuscational prose.

The first is a bare-bones, procedural loop:


This one is a bit more involved. I would personally put an up-arrow from CONCLUSION to ASK/ADDRESS:


Last one is still fairly basic, but more what one might find in a text-book:


A potential weakness see in these particular cases (and in all I was able to find), the relationship between theory and hypothesis is not spelled out.

The issue is that many hypotheses may be well confirmed within a theory, but theories as a whole can be disproven when one or more of the predictions they generate fail to match observation. An example was the Newtonian Theory of physics vs Relativity Theory. The theories generated different predictions, and observation confirmed Relativity and disproved the Newtonian theory. We now continue to use Newtonian physics, but recognize it as an approximation of convenience.

Note that relativity was not proven. No theory can be; only confirmed or disproven. It's the scientific version of 'good so far' vs. 'so much for that'.

While I personally find that relationship very important to the Scientific Method, it may be that it's too fine a distinction? That anyone who follows the simpler paths for any period of time will quickly figure that out for themselves? It certainly complicates transmission!

Dave Z