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PinkMonkey Online Study Guide-Biology

1.2 Scientific Methodology


To study the sciences, including biology, a person must adopt a certain manner of thinking about questions, The methods used to answer questions about biology require a scientist to think about all the possibilities that could explain an observation. The scientist then refers to the research that other scientists and experts have done which might help him or her to better understand the problem. Then experiments are designed which will rule out all the possibilities exept one. If all possibilities exept one are ruled out, then the remaining possibility must be true explanation. Scientific method consists of the following steps.

i) Observation

The scientist objectively ( without forming opinions yet) observes a particular phenomenon in nature or in the labratory. A problem based on that observation is declared. The scientist then formulates the required steps to solve the problem. Because other scientists may also beworking on this same problem or similar problems, the scientist must use the library to read about what others have already discovered. This is necissary to help design experiments that have already been done by others.

ii) Hpothesis, Experimental Inference, and Analysis

This next step is to form a hypothesis, which is a simple statement that is either true or false. For example, a scientist may exept that water is necessary to keep houseplants alive. He might form the hypothesis, " water is necessary for houseplants to remain alive," which is either true or false. The perameters of the experiment would include houseplants with water, and houseplants without water. The experiment is repeated several times. In this case, the scientist could merely observe the state of the plant ( dead or alive). In other experiments, the hypothesis might require that actual measurements would be made, such as the height of the plant, the number of leaves formed, etc.

iii) Conclusion

Based on the outcome of the experiments and whether the hypothesis was found to be true or proven to be false, an inference is drawn,. In our example, the houseplants without water would turn brown and die, so the scientist would infer that water is necessary to keep houseplants alive. Therefore, our hypothesis that " water is necessary for houseplants to remain alive" would be supported ( i.e., not proven to be incorrect). This, and other experiments which show that water is necessary for discoveries are also discussed at scientific converences.

iv) Theory and Law

If many different experiments are performed which all support a hypothesis, then it is likely to actually be true. If most scientist have high confidence that a hypothesis to be true, then it is now considered to be a theory. Theories are hypotheses that sre assumed to be true. If a theory is tested and retested in many ways, and no evidence can be found that proves that it is not true, then it is eventually considered to be a fact of nature, and is referred to as a " law"..


Table of Contents

1.0 - Introduction
1.1 Practical Biology
1.2 Scientific Methodology

Chapter 2


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