Comments about "Scientific method" in Wikipedia

This document contains comments about the article Scientific method in Wikipedia
In the last paragraph I explain my own opinion.



The article starts with the following sentence.

1. Overview

1.1 Process

1.2 DNA example

1.3 Other components

Scientific inquiry 2.1 Properties of scientific inquiry 2.2 Beliefs and biases

3. Elements of the scientific method

Four essential elements of the scientific method are iterations, recursions, interleavings, or orderings of the following:
  • Characterizations (observations, definitions, and measurements of the subject of inquiry)
  • Hypotheses (theoretical, hypothetical explanations of observations and measurements of the subject)
  • Predictions (reasoning including deductive reasoning from the hypothesis or theory)
  • Experiments (tests of all of the above)
If you want to explain something very often you have to divide the whole in certain parts or concepts. Hypothesis are the first step to explain the observations or how the parts are interconnected.
A theory is the same but than using a more mathematical language. Predictions finaly without an Experiment are like thought experiments.
Einstein's theories are expansions and refinements of Newton's theories and, thus, increase confidence in Newton's work.
Nicely said.
A linearized, pragmatic scheme of the four points above is sometimes offered as a guideline for proceeding: in 8 steps etc.
While this schema outlines a typical hypothesis/testing method, it should also be noted that a number of philosophers, historians, and sociologists of science, including Paul Feyerabend, claim that such descriptions of scientific method have little relation to the ways that science is actually practiced.
This sentence is not very scientific, it is too vaque and can not be tested.

3.1 Characterizations

The scientific method depends upon increasingly sophisticated characterizations of the subjects of investigation.
Scientific method starts with data collection.
The result

3.1.1 Uncertainties

Measurements in scientific work are also usually accompanied by estimates of their uncertainty. The uncertainty is often estimated by making repeated measurements of the desired quantity.
The scientific issue is Accuracy. Uncertainty are a big issue in physics. Infact it is part of the problem to what extend we can predict the future.
This is also part of the problem between Bohr and Einstein i.e Quantum Mechanics versus Classical Mechanics.

3.1.2 Definition

Measurements demand the use of operational definitions of relevant quantities.
Scientific method demands the use of clear and unambiguous definitions.
The operational definition of a thing often relies on comparisons with standards: the operational definition of "mass" ultimately relies on the use of an artifact, such as a particular kilogram of platinum-iridium kept in a laboratory in France.
This is only okay for earth based science. Global based science requires Newton's Law or General Relativity to calculate Mass
For example, Albert Einstein's first paper on relativity begins by defining simultaneity and the means for determining length.
However there exists a much deeper philosophical question: Are these two concepts a correct starting point to devellop a new theory.
These ideas were skipped over by Isaac Newton with, "I do not define time, space, place and motion, as being well known to all.
That is not 100% correct. The biggest issue is that Newton considered the concept time as something valid for the whole solar system (at one instant)
Einstein's paper then demonstrates that they (viz., absolute time and length independent of motion) were approximations.
The true issue is here the relation of the observer versus the physical reality.

3.1.3 DNA-characterizations

3.2 Hypothesis development

A hypothesis is a suggested explanation of a phenomenon, or alternately a reasoned proposal suggesting a possible correlation between or among a set of phenomena.
An hypothesis is the first release of a future law.
The question not raised is: What is a theory? IMO this is almost similar as an hypothesis.

3.3 Predictions from the hypothesis

3.4 Experiments

3.5 Evaluation and improvement

3.6 Confirmation

4. Models of scientific inquiry

4.1 Classical model

4.2 Pragmatic model

5 Communication and community

5.1 Peer review evaluation

5.2 Documentation and replication

5.3 Dimensions of practice

6 Philosophy and sociology of science

6.1 Role of chance in discovery

7 History

8 Relationship with mathematics

9 Relationship with statistics

The scientific method has been extremely successful in bringing the world out of medieval thinking, especially once it was combined with industrial processes.
In principle this are processes with no human intervention.
However, when the scientific method employs statistics as part of its arsenal, there are mathematical and practical issues that can have a deleterious effect on the reliability of the output of scientific methods.
Statistics, which is a certain mathematical operation, is performed based on information. The question is what is this information, how is this information collected, measured or calculated.
When the information is not reliable, the results (i.e. statistics) are not reliable.
This is described in a popular 2005 scientific paper "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False" by John Ioannidis.
When you read the text (in the next paragraph) the paper is maybe popular, but does not seem very scientific.
The particular points raised are statistical
  1. ("The smaller the studies conducted in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true" and
  2. "The greater the flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical modes in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true.") and economical
  3. ("The greater the financial and other interests and prejudices in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true" and
  4. "The hotter a scientific field (with more scientific teams involved), the less likely the research findings are to be true.")
Each of the claims have to be backed up by facts, otherwise the whole sentence is not very scientific.
Hence, if the scientific method is used to expand the frontiers of knowledge, research into areas that are outside the mainstream will yield most new discoveries.
The word scientific method is wrong here. Better use: Science.
A different issue is if outside mainstream research will show the most new discoveries.
Outside mainstream research by definition is research that in some way disagrees with mainstream.

10. See also

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Created: 6 June 2017

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