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Patanjali Sokaris

Pondering the universe

Scientific method

Many see science as based upon facts, but the central process by which those facts are determined is based upon a leap of faith. Moreover, that process is used by everybody in their daily lives, albeit mostly imperfectly.

There seems to be a new ideology where science is seen as a different way of thinking and acting than other ideologies, like religion. Many proselytise science as if it is a religion, ernestly trying to convince us of it as the 'true' way.

But science largely relies upon a process called the scientific method, the basic steps of which are:

#ActionExplanation
1HypothesiseState what is to be proven (or disproven)
2ExperimentThink or act as if the hypothesis is true (or false)
3EvaluateExamine if the experiments produce results consistant with the hypothesis
4Update and repeatIf required, update the hypothesis and repeat the steps

This is the process by which mathematical theories become theorems (proven), and scientific research is supposed to proceed.

However, the so-called scientific method is essentially a universal method by which we all conduct our lives, though we may not be aware of it. We will now examine how it plays out in the larger social context beyond academic and laboratory scenarios.

1. Hypothesis ^

A hypothesis is a statement of belief, setting the scope of any activities that follow.

A belief is an anchor to our thoughts, like a rock that remains steady after the waves of life wash over it.

We usually take on a lot of beliefs as a result of being around people that hold those beliefs, like our parents, peers or role models. By doing so, we can avoid a lot of distracting thoughts which would otherwise sabotage our ability to focus upon our responsibilities and other of life's practicalities.

2. Experiment ^

Experimenting involves acting as if the hypothesis is true (or false), and seeing what transpires. That is a leap of faith.

It is this leap of faith which is not really acknowledged, as doing so makes so-called scientific endeavours really no different from any other, except that it might be pursued more rigorously when part of a scientific discipline.

Most of us make our decisions in a reactionary way, without really thinking through how we will deal with the consequences. Therefore, we usually don't create much structure around what activities our future will entail.

However, some life decisions, like when choosing to follow a religion, lead to a future that is highly structured. This can result in a lot less stress, as a lot of our confusing thinking and questions may now seem to have answers. We may feel at peace, or feel that we have found our 'home'.

Religion is a major set of beliefs and activities, but other life choices, like marriage, children, or a career, are just as major, though tend to be less structured, at least when undertaking them.

3. Evaluate ^

At some point, or if an ongoing experiment, regularly, some testing or evaluation of progress needs to be undertaken. In normal life, we call it a 'reality check'.

Ideally, it should be made outside the influence of the activity, so that our thinking is not biased. Unfortunately, when trying to evaluate, we may seek the advice of those who have a vested interest in us continuing to believe, which may prevent us from thinking clearly.

It is important for evaluation to be as impartial as we can make it. We don't have to be hypercritical, but just be truthful about what affect our experimenting has had upon us.

4. Update and repeat ^

Beliefs are a choice, and if our reality checking reveals some things we don't agree with, we can choose to change some of our beliefs, and see what it changes about our future.

A scientific experiment, or series of them, will have a end, but our lives are ongoing, so the process is ongoing until we die. It is by this process we can grow, but more importantly, control that growth, and thus the direction in which our life proceeds.

For many people, once they reach a life goal, they may want to stop the cycle of change. However, much of our future is not at the discretion of our personality, but subject to the agenda of our higher self, which may have other lessons we need to learn, thus pushing us to change as a result of new circumstances being forced upon us.

Summary ^

The so-called scientific method is not restricted to scientists, but is a universal process, which will work better for us if we tighten up how we approach how we conduct our lives.

We don't have to feel we cannot change our lives or circumstances, but with a more formal approach, we can gain much more control of our lives, so that we get better outcomes.


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