The scientific method is a method of gaining knowledge through a series of procedures and experiments to build on understanding what we can know. Bias and opinion can impact the results of a singular scientific study, but every scientific study must be independently verified by other scientists and other scientific studies. The scientific method is not about one scientist or group of scientists. It is about developing a repeatable method of testing a hypothesis. Consistency is important in scientific experiments and in the scientific method.
Basic Steps of the Scientific Method:
- Ask a question
- Do background research
- Construct a hypothesis
- Test with an experiment
- Analyze data
- Form conclusion and publish results
These steps can get repeated several times before a conclusion is reached. Theories are tested and retested. The results of the study are then published in a peer reviewed scientific journal. Other studies are conducted on the same subject and, hopefully, a scientific consensus is reached. If a scientific consensus is not reached, more scientific studies will need to be done. Even when a scientific consensus is reached, scientists and scientific groups will continue to expand upon our understanding of that subject. When the theory is proven by several independent studies, the theory becomes knowledge that can be built upon.
Time is important in the scientific method. You can not cut corners or speed up results in science. When people complain that pharmaceuticals take too long to come to market, they are misunderstanding the scientific method. To properly test pharmaceuticals takes time. The promises and possible side effects must be tested to ensure the safety of every drug. The scientific method, slow as it is, is what ensures that safety. Another consideration of time in the scientific method is dealing with large numbers. The Earth formed about 4.54 billion years ago. Humans began to appear about 200,000 years ago. The scientific method has been around about 800 years. Scientists are merely scratching the surface of our understanding about ourselves and the universe. As time continues, we will understand more about reality.
The scientific method is the most fundamental concept in science. By building upon knowledge, we can understand reality more. Scientific knowledge is not based on opinions, biases, or beliefs. Doubting scientific knowledge is not the same as doubting someone’s opinions or beliefs. Science can only be questioned or challenged with more science. Not understanding a scientific concept is not the same as disagreeing with the scientific concept. The misunderstanding says nothing about science. The scientific method and science are the greatest inventions that humanity has produced. They are our greatest assets and our most dangerous tool if used unethically. Science itself does not make ethical choices, so it is up to scientists and scientific thinkers to ensure that science is not used to destroy the reality that the scientific method has opened up to humanity.