What is the scientific method and how does it work?

Without science, we would not have reached the present stage of development. Thanks to the scientific method, mankind has created great medical and technological advancesAnd even the field of psychology, an aspect of reality that seemed too confusing and ambiguous to analyze, has grown to the point where we know well what is behind our actions and thoughts.

How important is the scientific method?

however, What is the real reason why science is so prestigious? Where exactly is its value? I? Why is it necessary to use the scientific method for science to progress?

I will try to shed some light on the subject in question by starting with the root of the subject: the birth of science.

The origins of science and its epistemology

In the sixth century, in Ionia (part of ancient Greece located in present-day Turkey), a world full of mysteries presented itself to the Hellenes. The starting point was a situation of almost total uncertainty, but little by little, the observation of nature, the ideas of an ordered and rational universe arose, capable of being analyzed.

At first, many Greeks believed that reality consisted of matter composed of an essence of which there was little knowledge, ruled by the action of equal and opposing forces which remained in a dramatic struggle, always keeping themselves in an eternal balance. At this historical moment and from these concepts arises a primitive science (or protociencia, since more to experiment properly theorized Greek).

The Renaissance brings the paradigm shift

It was not until the 16th century, with the arrival of the Renaissance in Europe, that a qualitative leap in scientific and technical knowledge began which would culminate in the 18th century AD with the Enlightenment.

In this scientific revolution, many medieval prejudices that had been dragged down (some) since antiquity were abandoned, and a concrete and effective method of discovering the truth was consolidated: the scientific method, which this would allow us to examine all aspects of nature in the best possible way.

And why “scientific”?

Science and its method did not happen by chance, but by survival. Primitive human civilization has always been confronted with large-scale massacres (wars, floods, epidemics, etc.) which required a protocol that could give us reliability in the production of new knowledge in order to be able to cope satisfactorily with these. adversities.

Thanks to the scientific method, we could let go of the eternal paralysis produced by not understanding what is happening or what may happen in the future, because we start to have good reasons to believe that something is wrong or true. although, ironically speaking, hesitation is part of the scientific method and the skeptical spirit that goes with it. In the words of American physicist Robert Oppenheimer:

“A scientist must allow himself to raise any question, to doubt any claim, to correct mistakes.”

The role of the brain

But it is not only disasters that are at the origin of the scientific method. One of the reasons for its birth is none other than our ability to reason, a miracle of evolution that allows us to avoid and resolve errors of logic, cognitive biases and errors of perception. In short, we can see the logic of things because our brains are structured in a way that allows us to examine premises and arguments for consistency and consistency in them.

However, as relatively instinctive and emotional animals that we are, the level of cognitive ability needed to be absolutely skeptical and rational (someone who knows how to recognize and perfectly order ideas and theories to detect flaws in them) is impossible even to the most educated and intelligent people. This is why science is, in part, a shared project and based on the consensus of many experts. and specialists who offer their different points of view.

The scientific procedure

From what has been said above, it follows that science is not made by four geniuses or individually enlightened (the opposite would be to make scientific knowledge entirely based on an error of authority). On the other hand, it is the result of collective cooperation: the so-called scientific community.

Scientific knowledge is built on another precedent, investing decades of research in which many experiments are carried out (the double-blind test, for example) and hypotheses and theories are proposed. In fact, the scientific process is so collective that scientists often ask their colleagues in the profession (the scientific community) to review any errors in their studies (even if it means that their alleged findings are denied). This has the advantage that the more research scientists carry out, the more likely they are to find errors in previous research and conclusions..

Pursue scientific objectivity

It is clear that absolute objectivity does not exist even in the hard sciencesBut that doesn’t mean it can’t be taken as a benchmark or an ideal. This is why another pragmatic characteristic of the scientific process is to delegate responsibilities in the research and development of hypotheses to auxiliary scientists who are not involved as a team in the project.

In this way, greater objectivity is ensured; essential characteristic of all science. These auxiliary scientists repeat the experiments and compare and analyze the information obtainedBecause any statement or phrase that claims to have the infallible seal of scientific quality must be able to be refuted or proven by someone outside of the project.

Would anyone believe a doctor who claims to have found the gift of immortality without giving others the opportunity to verify if he is right? In a way, it is a matter of common sense.

The role of the media

The media are of great importance in becoming a scientist. When television, for example, tells us that researchers at a university have indeed discovered something, what they want to express (perhaps recklessly) is that this research is far from over, because its conclusions must be “ subjected to repeated checks before having a good level of acceptance.

It is at this stage that other colleagues in the profession must verify the certainty of these statements. After careful selection and correct arbitration, if the study is still valid, the empirical evidence in favor of the hypothesis that has been raised is considered to be robust and serves to properly explain a phenomenon.

In this way, humanity will have gone one step further. A stage which may have to be reviewed in the future to continue moving forward, because the scientific method always leaves the door open to a reformulation of theories; the opposite would be to fall into a dogma.

Pseudosciences, sciences which in reality are not

Unfortunately, we sometimes fall into the error of making pseudoscientific hypotheses, Which, as they are high, cannot be worked by the scientific method.

And what is a pseudoscience? Pseudoscience is a belief or practice that is touted as a science but does not follow a reliable scientific method., Ergo cannot be verified. It is usually characterized by ambiguous, contradictory and non-specific statements where the use of errors and exaggerations is the order of the day.

In pseudoscience, there is a reliance on confirmation but never on rebuttable evidence, let alone reluctance to collaborate with the community. scientist so that she can assess the situation. In short, if already of itself sometimes we unwittingly fall into pseudo-scientific propositions, imagine what level of development we would have if our knowledge of nature was based solely on such assertions. It is in this comparison that all the value of science lies: in its usefulness.

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