# Man's physical universe

THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD 21

The Second Step in the Scientific Method Is the Formulation of a

Possible Solution of the Problem.

There are two approaches to the formulation of possible solutions to

problems, which are called hypotheses. One approach, called the inductive

method, starts with data obtained by observation and then uses

these data as the basis for the hypothesis.

In another approach, called the deductive method, one starts with the

hypothesis, i.e., a broad assumption the validity of which is generally

accepted, and then obtains data to check the assumptions on which the

hypothesis was based. Thus, the deductive method is the exact opposite

of the inductive method.

Do not concern yourself too much about induction and deduction;

both methods are equally valid. The important thing is not which

comes first but rather the fact that both can be subjected to the same

tests and checks. Most of the great generalizations of Science are a

result of the application of the inductive method, but the deductive

method is often the simpler one, especially when one is dealing with

familiar situations. The inductive method proceeds from a host of facts

to broad generalizations. The deductive method, on the other hand,

starts with a broad generalization and adapts it to new situations and

new sets of facts.

The Third Step in the Scientific Method Is That of Testing and Verifying

Conclusions.

One of the elements of the success of Science in solving problems is

that it does not accept its own conclusions, no matter how reliable or

extensive the data on which they are based, nor how plausible the conclusions

are, nor even how well they fit into previous ideas.

In Science

a conclusion is tentative; it is something to be tested. Such tests involve

the collection of additional data. New generalizations are thus

obtained, and so the process continues, constantly gaining momentum.

A generalization is tested by figuring out what ought to happen if

the generalization is true and then observing whether or not these

predictions are verified by experience. Even if the generalization is

verified, it may not be regarded as a law until it has been shown that

all other possible generalizations will not stand the test of experience.

Data Are the Result of Bare Observations and Experimental Observations.

Careful records of observations are called data. Data are obtained

by (1) bare observation, i.e., observation made under uncontrolled con-

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