What is the scientific method?

The three basic types of the scientific method (inductive reasoning, deductive reasoning, and hypothetic-deductive, or hypothesis testing) give us an idea of what is the scientific method.

Cover of the Global Scientific Method PDF. Tree of knowledge with pink leaves.




Author: José Tiberius




2.a) What is the scientific method?

The scientific method expression has different meanings, and, very often, it confuses a specific personal or social group with relative ignorance about the complexity of the concept. As its very name indicates, it represents the methodology that defines and differentiates scientific knowledge from other types of knowledge.

The philosophy of science creates the scientific method to exclude all that has subjective nature. In other words, what comes from common sense itself and obtains general acceptance by the scientific community and society.

Not everyone will agree with the previous paragraph, as there are various trends of the philosophy of science derive from the different concepts about reality, perception, and theories.

On the other hand, we know that there are things whose nature is precisely subjective. The scientific approach to these elements is complex and typically carried out through the lesser scientific methods, which are for specific branches of knowledge.

There are three basic types of the scientific method (inductive reasoning, deductive reasoning, and hypothetic-deductive or hypothesis testing) applied in the natural sciences –physics, chemistry, biology– in contrast to the commonly categorized social sciences –economics, politics. Among the latter, we can cite hermeneutical, phenomenological, dialectical, functionalism, structuralism.

Despite receiving the same designation as scientific methods, we are referring to approaches not only different but belonging to a different scale. For instance, talking about the world of transportation technology, one type would refer to parts like nuts or bolts, and the second type to motorcycles, cars, trucks, boats, planes, or rockets.

In other words, there are three elemental types, and the rest are combined types from the previous that try to define a complicated structure and that, therefore, are on a macroscopic scale relating to the first.

Likewise, the concept of time is associated with that of life and, by extension, with that of love. Nevertheless, the existence of love is not scientific! Nor do we know very well what life is, and what the vital impulse systems are.

Here we come to an essential problem with some branches of science that do not want to and cannot recognize that life and love exist with the corresponding exercise of their freedom. It is as if freedom were the enemy of knowledge and science in that the later attempts to discover laws that explain events and where it fails, it imposes its god: randomness.

We find a prototype of agnosticism in Laplace (1749-1827) when he says: "If in a particular instance we become aware of the exact situation and velocity of all of the particles of the universe, we could deduce through calculations all of its past and future." This affirmation needs an act of faith because freedom may not be scientifically proven, neither disproven.

Most likely, it is about time to change and perfect the very concept of science and the scientific method. Not always, using very orthodox or rigid practices achieve the best results; frequently, the relation could reverse when a specific limit exists.