Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. Daniel 12:3 NIV
It is important to restate a basic and simplified definition of the Scientific Method and to understand the guidelines for conducting research and discovery. The scientific method cannot be modified to force a conclusion or to confirm a presupposed condition. Science is dependent upon an objective analysis of the evidence and must adhere to a process in order to validate a theory or law. This process is referred to as Hypothesis, Theory, Law. Discovery generally begins with an observation that leads to further inquiry through the gathering and study of the available evidence. The carefully constructed research must remain objective, even when the evidence may disprove the hypothesis or theory.
Volumes have been written defining Science and the Scientific Method but merriam-webster.com and the About.com are referenced below for the sake of simplicity.
3 a: knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method
principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of an hypothesis.
The basic premise of Hypothesis, Theory, Law is further defined in the following:
Hypothesis: an educated guess, based on observation. Usually, a
hypothesis can be supported or refuted through experimentation or more observation.
A hypothesis can be disproven, but not proven to be true.
Theory: A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. A theory is valid as long as there is no evidence to dispute it. Therefore, theories can be disproven.
Law: A law generalizes a body of observations. At the time it is made, no exceptions have been made to a law. Scientific laws explain things but they do not describe them. One way to tell a law and a theory apart is to ask if the question gives you a means to explain 'why'.
Example: Consider Newton's law of Gravity. Newton could use this law to predict the behavior of a dropped object, but he couldn't explain why it happened.
The above definitions emphasize that science follows a set of rules and procedures that should not be modified according to the desire of those doing the research. Although the specific steps may vary depending upon the nature and complexity of the research, the general guidelines remain.
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