The Scientific Method


  1. Inductive reasoning (from the particular to the general) to generate a testable hypothesis
  2. Deductive reasoning (from the general to the particular) to generate predictions about future observations
  3. Tests of the predictions with controlled experiments or observations
  4. Logically interpret the results – conclusions
  5. Start over again with the new observations added to the old observations




A postulate for a specific investigation; a statement tested by experimentation

Hypotheses that have been repeatedly tested and have not yet failed

The tentative answer to a scientific question

Hypotheses that explan many diferent observations and makes many different predictions

An Example




A postulated answer to the question


 Experimental Design

Preferred test is a controlled experiment

When using humans you need to control for bias

If a controlled experiment is impossible, then use controlled observations

Assignment due before next class meeting:

After reading the class notes on designing experiments, think about some example of pseudoscience or alternative science (astrology, palm-reading, accupuncture, intelligent design, echinacea, etc.) you've heard about, come up with a scientific hypothesis based on the idea and then design an experiment that could be done to test the hypothesis. Your experiment should have a clear question, a hypothesis, a prediction, and an experimental design that would test your prediction.

This document is maintained by: Jeff Bell
Last Update: Tuesday, July 11, 2006