Scientific Method Surprises

The scientific method is  something I learned to use in fourth grade and dismissed as an annoying process that I had to use for all of my science papers. It was so much more interesting to come to a hasty conclusion about the  results of my science labs than objectively look at the evidence and reach a conclusion. As the expected results of our labs in fourth grade were always fairly straight forward I was usually tempted to change my evidence to support the conclusion I was supposed to draw, rather than finding an explanation for the evidence and results I actually got.

After taking a statistics course my attitude toward the scientific method changed. I developed more respect for the process of gathering objective evidence and finding many forms of evidence for your particular claim or hypothesis. After a while I began to realize that the scientific method not only applied to what I was doing in science and math but also to my english and history courses. We were expected to keep our personal opinions out of our papers for these classes and whatever thesis we came up with needed to be supported by evidence that most people would agree supported the thesis.

Methods of Scientific Evidence asserts that examples of the best naturalistic observation are those of a secretary’s notes during a meeting, Jane Goodall’s observations of Chimpanzees, and Jean Piaget’s research on children’s behavior. The article begins by explaining the importance of unobtrusively witnessing whatever you seek to observe. All three of these examples are situations where the observer would not have had an impact on the behavior of the observer, and the observer left bias out of their evidence reporting. The value of this sort of evidence is immeasurable because it allows other scientists to read through it an reach their own conclusions.

4 Responses to Scientific Method Surprises

  1. Though naturalistic observation is useful, we need to be careful of always trusting what the observer reports. People have innate biases that come out in small but important ways. It is impossible to see and record everything, especially when observing a natural setting where things are always happening and changing. What the observer sees and does not see can have a significant impact on the reports even if the observer had no intention of being biased. Naturalistic observations serve as building blocks for future research but should not be wholly trusted.

  2. I have always shared Charlottes thoughts on the scientific process. Having heard the same steps over and over, it has become a mundane process that is now engrained in my head. I also took a Statistics class last semester, Psych 200 Methods and Analyses, and now have a much deeper understanding of how to apply the scientific process, rather than just memorizing the steps for a test. Naturalistic observation is definitely a great way to collect data, however, as we talked about in class, the monkeys may act differently in the presence of an observer (Jane Goodall) than they would normally.

  3. I was surprised when I had a similar realization as Charlotte when I discovered that I had actually been using the scientific method in History and English papers. I have never been a science or math person, and I have never constructed my arguments for essays with the conscious thought in mind that my thesis was actually a hypothesis. I was interested to find out that sometimes the manner in which my writing pieces itself together adheres to a formula. I can remember learning in the fourth grade how to construct the 5 paragraph essay using a very simplistic and clear guideline that I now realize was a formula. I have since deconstructed this set regiment to create writing that flows more naturally and freely, but pieces of the formula definitely still show up in my essays from time to time. Prior to this reading, I probably would have never contemplated the idea that theses and hypotheses are so similar.

  4. My reactions have been similar to those above and Charlotte’s. I agree that I was most surprised by my use of the scientific method in my humanities and social science work. These readings made me understand that we go through the same basic thought process for almost everything we do whether that is writing a history paper, conducting a science experiment, or just fixing a problem with our phone.

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