The scientific method prescribes systematic methods that scientists use to solve various problems. Use of scientific method facilitates the acquisition of new knowledge or reevaluating previous knowledge. For any method to be referred to as scientific, it must fulfill various conditions. One of them is the use of a common method of inquiry, which is based on the measurable variables to support certain principles of reasoning. Scientific method is commonly used in natural sciences. It has been used since the 17th century. Scientific method enables scientists to create a highly accurate representation of various phenomena in the world. Scientific method acknowledges the fact that people have cultural and personal beliefs that influence their perception and interpretations of various phenomena. Therefore, it uses standard procedures and criteria. This helps in minimizing the impact of personal and cultural beliefs on a certain theory. As such, the method strives to reduce the influence of bias or prejudice on the results of a study when testing a hypothesis. In fact, utilization of scientific method is usually a systematic process. In summary, the process begins with observation of various natural phenomena. Due to the fact that people are naturally inquisitive, they question various things they see or hear. This leads to the development of ideas (hypothesis) on why certain phenomena occur. A suitable hypothesis should lead to predictions that one can test using various methods. The hypothesis should also encourage observing further natural phenomena to introduce a conclusive answer on why a certain phenomenon occurs. The most efficient method of testing hypothesis is via a controlled experiment. The results of the experiment would determine whether the hypothesis was correct, whether it was rejected, or whether it should be changed. If the results of the experiment support a certain hypothesis, then a certain theory may be formulated to explain the phenomenon.
Scientific method comprises of several major steps. These include determining the problem that needs to be solved, formulating a hypothesis, testing the hypothesis, and determining how the results would be deemed a success or failure. Scientific method also discusses the wisdom behind the formulation of the hypothesis and steps that one might take if after testing the hypothesis, it is deemed as wrong. Scientific method may be used to solve problems in real life.
Observation is one of the most important steps in the scientific method. Observation refers to gathering data on a certain problem. It is the initial step that helps in understanding the problem under investigation. After choosing the area that one wants to investigate and the questions that should be asked, one should conduct extensive research to know everything about the problem. Generally, observations happen over an extended period of time. The individual would observe what happens to determine how to answer a certain problem. It is impossible for an individual to solve a problem if the observations are not noted. The observations enable an individual to determine methods of solving a certain problem. As such, initial research plays a critical role in the questions chosen and results of the study.
Scientific method may be used to determine the type of brand that one should select from a supermarket when shopping. In this case, the problem is how effectively can a certain brand of, for example, detergent clean laundry. The individual may have used other detergents that did not clean the laundry effectively. This created a problem that needed to be solved. Observation enabled the individual to prove that the detergents are incapable of cleaning the laundry. The individual may have used the detergents for an extended period of time with poor results. This may prompt the individual to look for other detergents that would properly clean the laundry. To select a certain detergent, the hypothesis would be that detergent X would properly clean laundry as compared to detergent Y, which the individual had used in the past. The individual may opt to purchase the detergent due to the recommendation of a friend who uses the detergent to clean laundry with perfect outcomes. However, it is vital to remember that the hypothesis is only an informed guess. In this instance, the individual is relying on the recommendation of the friend. Therefore, there is no guarantee that it would be correct.
Experiments are the foundation of virtually all scientific theories. Therefore, after making predictions, one should conduct an experiment to determine the accuracy of the hypothesis. Prior to conducting the experiment, one should obtain all the available material required to successfully conduct the experiment. While conducting the experiment, one should always have the hypothesis in mind. In some instances, experiments may be conducted in a wrong manner. In such a case, the results of the experiment may confirm the initial predictions. This implies that the hypothesis is correct. However, if the experiment was conducted wrongly, the hypothesis may still be wrong even if the experiment proves the hypothesis is correct. This necessitates further testing of the hypothesis. Experimental control helps in tackling observational errors, which are common in most experiments. It contrasts multiple samples under different conditions. This helps in determining changes or what is constant. As such, experimental control involves varying the conditions of the samples to determine what has changed. Factor analysis helps in determining the importance of factor in an experiment.
To prove the hypothesis, the individual would purchase the detergent X to see whether it would clean laundry more effectively than detergent Y. The individual would then obtain all other materials that are required to clean laundry. Failure to obtain the required material would imply that the experiment was not conducted correctly. Then, the individual would clean laundry using detergent X while applying the processes that were used to clean laundry using detergent Y, which did not clean laundry properly. Using similar processes would help in comparing the effectiveness of the two detergents.
After conducting the experiment, one should test the hypothesis. This would involve determining whether the hypothesis was correct or wrong. If the hypothesis is wrong, one may have to repeat the experiment or change the hypothesis. However, it is vital to note that it is impossible to prove the hypothesis using one experiment. The reason for this is the fact that one may have an error while conducting the experiment. Therefore, any experiment should be conducted several times.
In the situation under consideration, the hypothesis would be deemed a success if detergent X cleans laundry more effectively than detergent Y. This would have proved that the hypothesis was right. On the other hand, the results would be deemed a failure if detergent X does not clean laundry more effectively than detergent Y. The detergent may either make laundry shrink or fail to remove all the dirt and stains on the laundry. It may also be more expensive than detergence Y. However, in the above experiment, the process of testing the hypothesis only involved determination if the ability to clean laundry effectively is the only consideration. Cost of the detergent and whether it makes clothes shrink or not are not a consideration in testing the hypothesis.
Guessing incorrect results does not imply that the experiment was conducted wrongly. The authenticity of the result is not affected by the results of the experiment regardless of whether the hypothesis was proved right or wrong. Despite the recommendation of the friend, the detergent may not effectively clean laundry. The hypothesis would have to be revised since it was proved wrong. If this is the case, then the individual should consider purchasing other detergents. In addition, the detergent may only be effective in removing certain types of stains. Therefore, the individual would have to go back to the supermarket and buy another type of detergent to determine whether it would clean laundry more effectively. If the other detergent does not clean laundry more effectively, the individual would have to keep purchasing other detergents until the detergent that would clean the laundry effectively is found. However, if the hypothesis was proved wrong since the experiment was not conducted properly, the experiment should be repeated. A flawed experiment is an experiment that fails to keep experimental variables under control or does not answer the question, for which the experiment was conducted.
The above experiment follows the principles of the scientific method. Scientists use trial and error until they prove their guesses to be correct. This helps in the formulation of various scientific theories. The theories must be subjected to rigorous criticism to determine their authenticity. However, it is a fact that all theories have certain assumptions. The reason for this is the fact that it is impossible to conduct an experiment in the lab using real life conditions, which usually alter the results of the experiment. However, the deviations of the results of the experiment from the real life situations should be minimal for the theory to withstand rigorous criticism.