Talk:Scientific method

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February 19, 2008Peer reviewReviewed

Article is misleading, poorly organized, and overratedEdit

Introduction is repetitive. It also reflects the misleading and omitted aspects of the rest of the article.

Conceptual problems:

CP1. Ignores important concepts such as "theory" and "regime".

CP2. Inadequate (almost non-existent) treatment of analytic, experimental, and numerical models.

CP3. "Complexity" is mentioned, but should not be. It has its own article, and is simply one area of science.

CP4. The section on relationship between mathematics and science is very vague. The table is hopelessly misleading.

CP5. No discussion of the methods of modern, "big science".

CP6. No discussion of the interactions among science, society, and politics.

CP7. Should there be a discussion of the nature of "soft sciences"?

Vocabulary problems:

VP1. The word "model" is used ambiguously, referring both to the scientific method and to models used within science. The former use should be replaced. The "scientific method" is not a model.

VP2. The word "law" is used inconsistently and without any systematic introduction.

Organizational problems:

OP1. Sections contain overlapping material.

OP2. Some sections are hobby-horses, i.e., too minor to appear in an article at this level.

Quality Rating:

I would rate this article as C or lower.

The article should be rewritten, starting from a draft by a small panel (5–7?) of scientists, teachers, and laymen.

Wcmead3 (talk) 08:06, 11 April 2020 (UTC)

Wikipedia does not work with panels, nor based on qualifications, people being assigned tasks etc. There have been attempts to make wikis which do work that way and they never work as well as Wikipedia. In practice we can best help this article by making concrete editing proposals whenever we have one. It can be slow and frustrating, especially if there are major structural changes to make, but normally it more or less works. Probably you know all this already, but anyway, it would be better if you explained opinions in more concrete detail, aiming to convince rather than scold. (Remember there is probably no editor who will feel responsible for the article.) For example: which sections are over-lapping; which are hobby horses? --Andrew Lancaster (talk) 08:22, 11 April 2020 (UTC)
I   Agree with Andrew Lancaster   - Mark D Worthen PsyD (talk) (I'm a man—traditional male pronouns are fine.) 15:38, 11 April 2020 (UTC)
I also agree with Andrew Lancaster, except that the feedback of Wcmead3 did not strike me as "scolding", just underdeveloped. I prefer this definition of scolding: "to criticize (someone) severely or angrily especially for personal failings". Scolding is what people do on my talk page when they opine (usually always wrongly, of course!...) that I am behaving badly, not what they do when they are giving good-faith feedback about content.
With regard to the vocabulary issues mentioned:
  • VP1: I see no problem with using the word "model" in two different ways, though I did find one instance of the phrase "the model of the scientific method" that I agree was poor, and I removed it;
  • VP2: The word "law" is hardly used at all in this article, so I don't see exactly what the problem is with that word. Note that Scientific law is a separate article. Biogeographist (talk) 21:12, 11 April 2020 (UTC)
Maybe I could have found a better word. My response should be understood as wishing for more concrete details. I do not see the post of Wcmead3 as useless. Some of the points seem like useful leads, while others are hard to work with.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 21:39, 11 April 2020 (UTC)
CP5–CP7 listed above are likely outside the scope of this article.
  • CP5: Big Science is a separate article; discussion of its methods would belong in that article with a link in this one.
  • CP6: The "interactions among science, society, and politics" are poorly covered in Wikipedia but would belong in Science and technology studies, the lead of which currently describes STS as "the study of how society, politics, and culture affect scientific research and technological innovation, and how these, in turn, affect society, politics and culture."
  • CP7: Hard and soft science is a separate article; at the most general level both hard and soft science use the scientific method, understood as the development and testing of hypotheses, but as far as I can see Wikipedia does not have a good overview anywhere of methodic variations across the hard and soft sciences, which one would expect to find at Methodology, but no luck. Perhaps someone will come along with a desire to improve Wikipedia in this respect, but given Wikipedia's poor current coverage of this issue I am not sure where we would look to find a currently active editor who would be an expert on it. Biogeographist (talk) 23:08, 11 April 2020 (UTC)

Adding a more formal approach to anomalies and exceptions as per cognitive developmentEdit

Before inserting changes to the main page, I will propose to the community some ideas.

There is extensive work on scientific reasoning that appears in the child cognitive development literature (e.g. Barbara Koslowski's "Theory and Evidence" and much more recent work on inquiry based science teaching) that is explicit about the role of anomalies and exceptions. I believe a section entitled "Anomalies and Exceptions" belongs in the "process" section either just before or just after the subsection on "Formulation of a question". The nature of anomalies and exceptions driving rejection of established theories and new experiments is critical to scientific reasoning, and it is hinted at throughout the current article, but without naming it properly. For example, in the description of Kevin Dunbar, these are called "bugs" or "errors", when plainly he is referring to anomalies. Likewise in the section about Peirce, they are referred to as "inhibitory doubts born of surprises, disagreements and the like". while I doubt that Peirce used the terminology "anomalies" in the early 20th century, there is no other explanation of the pragmatic method that follows Peirce in that section, and he plainly is referring to anomalies, so I think they should be mentioned as such.

Likewise, I think it would be useful to at least mention the term "covariation" or "covariance", as this is really what scientists use (rather than induction). Covariation is especially important in protein function studies based on molecular biology. Induction implies a high N number, but often a powerful prediction (N = 1) is enough to nail down a theory (e.g. the discovery of Neptune).
Finally, I think it might be useful to mention the idea that scientific reasoning is fundamentally a method of "bootstrapping" (again this is Koslowski's term) between theory and covariation. This explains why philosophers of science regularly report that "anything goes" or that there aren't "any universal rules" to the scientific method (Feyerabend). The key feature is that bootstrapping will be unsound unless it is accompanied by the scientific motivation driven by anomalies. It is the combination of bootstrapping with anomalies that makes scientific reasoning both robust yet difficult to describe deductively.Relleh22hctac (talk) 16:20, 14 June 2020 (UTC)
This proposal allows a more recent perspective beyond Peirce's, and Feyerabend's views, from the past quarter-century. There seem to be additional secondary sources to summarize the progress by Kevin DunbarJonah Lehrer (12.21.09) Accept Defeat: The Neuroscience of Screwing Up as well as Barbara Koslowski Theory and Evidence: The Development of Scientific Reasoning? --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 17:24, 14 June 2020 (UTC)

Confusing sentenceEdit

The sentence "Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, they are frequently the same from one to another." is confusing and seems to contradict itself. Should it say something more like "Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, they generally follow similar principles."? Or something flowing more naturally into the next sentence "...are all based on deriving predictions from hypotheses..." etc. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:21, 26 August 2020 (UTC)

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