Everyday Science

Does the scientific method work for solving everyday problems?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. The scientific method is a way to solve problems both profound and mundane, from questions about the universe to mechanical problems. The scientific method is based on forming a hypothesis that can be tested and verified by repeated duplication. When a hypothesis is confirmed, it becomes a theory. Theories can be used to make predictions before there is actual evidence to support them. One of the objectives of science is to prove existing theories wrong and then modify or discard them if necessary.

    The basic principle behind the scientific method is observation, which is the basis of science itself. Scientists gather information and collect data. The data can be numerical or behavioral, quantitative or qualitative. Scientists analyze these observations and make generalizations regarding a specific topic. This is called inductive reasoning. The predictions they make are then tested repeatedly if necessary to verify their accuracy. The entire process involves asking questions, making hypotheses and testing the hypotheses before coming to a conclusion.

    Researchers apply the scientific method rigidly. Personal bias can influence results, and preconceptions must not be allowed to influence scientific experiments. Scientific methodology calls for standardization of procedures and objectivity in conducting experiments. This approach limits the possibility of straying from facts. Performing experiments without appropriate controls or ignoring data can lead to confirmation bias, an error based on selectively using data to support a hypothesis.

    On the simplest level, we can solve any everyday problem or question following a similar logical progression. First, identify the problem based on observation. For example, your washing machine has broken down. Next, make an educated guess as to how the problem may be solved. For example, you can guess which part of your washing machine may have malfunctioned. Test your hypothesis by replacing or repairing that particular part. If it works, your hypothesis is confirmed. If it doesn't, you continue forming hypotheses and testing them until you reach a conclusion.

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