What is the Scientific Method (an explanation using Cats)


Scientific discoveries are often great, fantastical ideas that are quite hard to believe. This is rather ironic, as all throughout history mankind has wondered about their surroundings and yearned for a better understanding of the world around them. Humans poke, prod,and test the universe in an attempt to uncover its mysteries. Fortunately, scientists put a method to this madness to help us figure out what ideas should be believed and what should be left behind. This method is a powerful tool, The Scientific Method.

 Image credit: Serena, via Flickr

Image credit: Serena, via Flickr

It is designed to function without bias, without conspiracy, and without the need to persuade others to believe the results. Scientific experiments and observations can and must be repeatable by anyone, letting scientists experience a conclusion for themselves (which is ultimately the beauty of the scientific method).

Image via: William Harris

Francis Bacon was the first person to formalize the scientific method as we know it, though he did not do so alone. Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo Galilei had tremendous influence on Bacon’s scientific method. Copernicus, with his heliocentric solar system, and Galileo’s study of motion using simple mathematical expressions led to the systematic approach to science. Next comes Newton. He is considered the first powerhouse of the scientific method. Through his work in mathematics, he created calculus; through his work in astronomy, he described gravitation; through optics, the first reflecting telescope. Newton did all of this using a similar type of the scientific method as we use today. It is not by chance that these great minds all approached the world of science in the same way. It’s pure logic, which Galileo, Copernicus, and Newton (among others) valued greatly.

Whether you’re a scientist, mathematician, writer, cat, or just an ordinary human, you use the scientific method daily. There’s no getting around it, the scientific method is based on logic. Though not everything we do is logical, many aspects of daily life are. The common household cat may be a great example. Without knowing it, cats will *sometimes* show the same aspects of the scientific method that humans do, but they’re far funnier when doing so.

*Many resources state the scientific method using 5, 6, or even 7 steps – They all do the same
process, but I’m going to use a five to six step scientific method.
 
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Image via: Lisa Dooley