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A lot of students ask me (not actually): “Hey Mr. Petlak, why do you think the scientific method is so great?” and I say to them: “Because.” and they say: “Because, why?” and then I say: “Exactly.”

“Why?”

that-is-the-right-question

I, Robot by grogbor via imgur

The question is at the root of science and learning. Keep asking questions, and keep asking the right questions. Serendipitous discoveries don’t happen without the right question about an observation.

Why is the sky blue?

How does the moon affect tides?

The scientific method answered these questions. Through data and experimentation, individuals explained what it wasn’t, and accumulated data that explained what it was.

However…

My first three and a half years of teaching are in the books and I’ve been startled at how the scientific method is easily forgotten or left unappreciated. And some things may not be simplified/explained using this method – like teaching… yet. The scientific method may seem like another thing to memorize in class, but for myself it is a way of approaching life: Every problem or observation has an explanation or solution… or if the solution doesn’t solve it yet, we learn something that it doesn’t solve it. Is this a new philosophical idea? When did this way of thinking originate?

The Scientific Method as an Ongoing Process.svg
By ArchonMagnusOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42164616

 

First introduced by a man named Alhazen in the 10th-11th century, he stressed the importance of meaningful data collection. While individuals may have thought this way prior to this, he is credited with it. I personally don’t always place a strong emphasis on historical figures as I find that we tend to glorify and paint individuals with a perfect history. In this case, the fact that this way of thinking has been around so long is important to take note of. Why? This means of thinking transcends time and provides us with a common language and means to approaching problems/questions about our world. And it is without a need for faith or belief, because you can observe it work. It isn’t opinion, its free from bias.And it existed in times where faith and belief may have been mandatory.

People abuse what it tells us and asks for their own gain, unfortunately. So education is required on the nature of science – it is simply the pursuit of truth. Hard truths are inherent within the process. We learn the most from answering the hard questions and challenging the unanswerable questions… yet the opportunity for good and evil “for the sake of science” presents the duality of its nature.

people_like_what_science_gives_them

“People like…” via reading-skeptics.org

Science, at its roots, is laced with a natural idealism and altruistic intentions, yet the beauty of it is that it is devoid of both. You can love and hate what you learn, but science is free from love and hate. And that simple complexity is what makes it such an important part of pursuing life – humanity and organisms constantly address problems and come up with a means to fix and explain them… what we do with the solutions are up to us.

Problem?
Why is there is problem?
Possible explanation to fix the problem.
Try explanation.
Failure?
New explanation to fix the problem.

 

Always keep questioning and solving problems… so if you have any questions, comment below!

Logan Petlak

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