Scientific Literacy and the Myth of the Scientific Method

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University of Illinois Press, 1994 - Science - 180 pages
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By:
Arif Nurahman
Harvard-MIT Open Course Ware
Scientific method refers to techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.
Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, identifiable features distinguish scientific inquiry from other methodologies of knowledge. Scientific researchers propose hypotheses as explanations of phenomena, and design experimental studies to test these hypotheses. These steps must be repeatable in order to dependably predict any future results. Theories that encompass wider domains of inquiry may bind many hypotheses together in a coherent structure. This in turn may help form new hypotheses or place groups of hypotheses into context.
Among other facets shared by the various fields of inquiry is the conviction that the process be objective to reduce a biased interpretation of the results. Another basic expectation is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, thereby allowing other researchers the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called full disclosure, also allows statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established.
 

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Contents

Scientific Literacy
1
The Socalled Scientific Method
19
How Science Really Works
42
Other Fables about Science
63
Imperfections of the Filter
88
Consequences of Misconception
103
In Praise of Science
141
Notes on Sources
153
Further Reading
175
Index
177
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About the author (1994)

Bauer is a professor of chemistry and science studies at Virginind State University.

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