Jan 9, 2010

About Scientific Method


1.     Role of inductive reasoning in creating an hypothesis


            Firstly, Inductive thinking is a way of reasoning out things by taking major assumptions as true & then by applying the same rule to the things related to the basic assumptions. Hence, the major part of inductive thinking lies in assuming basic things to be perfectly to be true. Secondly, inductive thinking is used most of the times in proving the statements which are already concluded. It's as if A = B, & B = C then, A = C.

            As, discussed earlier (position of the observer is considered to be constant) A = Sun rises at a point P with respect to an observer, B = the observer sees that the sun rises everyday at point P. C = When observations taken by the observer are always the same or precise then the observation done is considered to be true. Hence, the conclusion made by the observer is "Sun always rises from the point P & will remain rising from the same point." Here, the condition B is wrong basically as it is just related to the observer & is not a universal law. In this example, conditions given were taken for granted but not questioned, due to which the rational & logical reasoning part fails. The term reasoning here means 'integration of relative statistical observations without considering the exact cause of it'. Here, play of words are used as well as different statements are combined which may differ from the initial base are combined to form a reasoning for the conclusion to be true.

            As in mathematics, we consider a variable as if it follows the given condition & then we prove the conclusion to be right, we use the inductive process mainly for proving things to be right. Main aspect of this kind of reasoning is assuming basic conditions to be right instead of finding out the cause of the basic conditions (if basic conditions are already proved then they are taken as granted), as a result we find a rule for conditions instead of finding the cause of it. But mathematics is originally built on the base of assumptions; hence inductive reasoning through mathematics is nothing but just mere assumptions. Things are related with each other only to prove them right.


            We normatively consider hypothesis as drawing conclusions just by mere observations. As a result in these hypotheses, reasoning part lessens & again assumption is given prime importance. For e.g.: - I know that gold is used in making jewelry. Gold is chrome yellow in color & has luster as it is a metal. Hence, if I say those minerals which are chrome yellow in color & have a bright luster then, such mineral is gold & is used in jewelry. This is the hypothesis which is laid just by observation & no reasoning part, even if reasoning is said to be involved then comparison of two things which are physically same, hence this hypothesis is right. This is what meant by a hypothesis at a normative level.

            But, when we think with respect of scientific then, Hypothesis means "Conclusions made for explaining concepts after understanding the given conditions & reasoning out the observations by scientific concepts." Hence, when a hypothesis is made, all the conditions are observed & reasoned to draw out a conclusion which may state the result of the change that takes place during the process. Hence, the above hypothesis of saying those minerals as gold with similar physical properties is wrong. If we consider the above hypothesis to be right then there is fault as chalcopyrite, a copper mineral will also be considered as Gold. Hence, when a hypothesis is to be made the rational & logical reasoning part is a must.

            We say that stars twinkle & planets do not twinkle, as a result the hypothesis made is that those objects which twinkle are not planets. Here, everyone fails to realize that planets do not twinkle when they are not at the horizon. When these planets are at the horizon they too twinkle due to the thick blanket of atmosphere. Hence, when the reason of twinkling is considered then only the conclusion made will be a hypothesis else it will just be a observational conclusion in terms of science.

            Thus, inductive reasoning does not play a role in creating a hypothesis. (Here, scientific perspective is given important hence the above statement)


2.     Is Ockham's razor justified, i.e. can it be used with certainty

            Ockham's principle states that "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity". This means that when a law is to be made, its base should be simple & stable enough to support it. Terms or concepts unnecessary in the phenomenon should be eliminated; only the parameters should be given prime importance.

            Yes, Ockham's razor is justified as it goes in accordance with the "Law of Conservation of Energy". This is because, the total energy of the universe always remains constant is conserve at every particular stage. In any phenomenon the parameters are the only one's who play an important role in the formation of the product. Inversely, it can be said that for the product to remain the same & constant without any disturbance in it, then the reactants should be constant, i.e. only the parameters should be present. Excess use of some things can lead to deformation of the expected product.

            In chemistry, while preparing a acidic solution, if we add basic salt in it then if results into a new compound instead of forming the original compound. Hence, entities should not increase so as to stabilize the product to be formed. In physics, we write the units of displacement then it is written just "s", but when entities are increase it is written as (Power x Time) per unit Force. Hence, using 3 entities instead of 1 term may lead to confusion & calculation mistakes in practical calculations.

            If the total number of entities in any particular phenomenon do not go beyond necessity then it becomes easier to understand even the most complex phenomenon with least entities which are the parameters of the phenomenon. This razor helps the scientists to remain stable on their path instead of getting defocused. Hence, use of extra entities is not beneficial & may even lead to disasters. Limited entities make thinking easier as compared to complex entities as limited ones are easier to handle. Ockham's razor's practicality can be seen as; most of the scientists are busy in integrating all the equations to form a parent equation through which all other related equations can be derived.


3.     Is the scientific method rigidly followed? Should it be?

            Scientific method are tools for inventing new concepts, learning & understanding concepts & also for modifying older concepts as new ones come. In this, thinking done is rationally & logically right, due to which reasoning is given to each & every concept. By scientific method individuals can learn the concepts & understand them easily.

            In practical life those individual who do not belong to the scientific community even do not follow the scientific models. Scientific community mainly uses this tool for modifying the present concepts as well as for discovering newer concepts which may or may not be related to the present concepts. It is also used for calculating accurate values of most of the constants. The scientific community itself practices these methods which mainly include the ways like:

·        Proper  observations

·        Logically Reasoning out all the observations

·        Reasoning if not related with past concepts, then introduction of newer ones

·        Simplifying the complex things so as to make them easy to understand

·        Modifying the past concepts whenever necessary

This is what followed only by the scientific community in a proper way of understanding & handling things.

            But, this is not the case among the individuals who do not belong to the scientific community. Individuals use this tool only for their calculation purpose & not for understanding them. Today's individual know all the equations & they are able to calculate their problem's solution in fraction of time, but when the theory part is asked their faces become blank. This is because the individuals are more interested in finding solutions by provided things; they are not interested in learning or understanding things. As, a result these individuals face problems in their further life, as their basic knowledge of understanding things is too weak. Nowadays more importance is given to memory power of individuals instead of their thinking power. As a result their calculating power is boosted but they lack the quality of thinking & reasoning out things. Hence, individuals other than scientific community do not practice the scientific method rigidly.

            Yes, scientific method should be followed rigidly so that each individual would be able to reason out things that go around him in his surroundings. This tool may boost innovative thinking among individuals & lead them to good future. Just knowing things is not enough; one must be able to reason out them. When the individuals be able to reason out things, new ideas will emerge at a faster rate leading in new discoveries through period of time.