In part boosted by the spirit of geographical exploration, which dominated Europe and provided many new specimens for study and experimentation, the artists and thinkers of the Renaissance were infused with the desire to know and portray reality, prompting a dramatic rise in scientific exploration. Botany and biology flourished, as artists sought to better understand their subjects. This focus on the investigation of reality naturally began to create questions regarding the accepted Aristotelian norms.
However, learning institutions continued to preach the Aristotelian system and the Church reinforced the dependence on past authority, thus, to an extent, drowning out the spirit of inquiry and doubt. The Protestant Reformation, begun by Martin Luther in , radically transformed the theological and political landscape of Europe. Many Europeans began to question the authority of the Church. Indeed, a large faction broke away from the Church, in doing so breaking free from the restriction of intellectual progress.
The fierce censorship of the Church's response to the Reformation, the Counter- Reformation, further pushed people from the Catholic fold and appeared to many as foolishly protective of it's outdated doctrines. In this atmosphere the Scientific Revolution blossomed, and the Aristotelian system fell.
By breaking the hold of the Aristotelian system, the Scientific Revolution opened the door to modern science. Much of the work done during the latter sixteenth and seventeenth century is still considered the foundation of the major fields of modern science, including physics, chemistry, biology, and astronomy.
Over four years, we are developing a set of embedded assessment strategies and professional development to support research scientists in effectively communicating science to the public. Developed in for the International Year of Astronomy, the Galileoscope has become the centerpiece for teaching about telescopes in many programs. As a key component of the Galileo Teacher Training Program, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific engaged hundreds of educators in professional development related to telescopes and the Galileoscope.
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Quyen Hart. Sandra Liss. The Galileoscope Project. Until the time of Pavlov and Skinner , psychological theories were extremely difficult to falsify because there were few quantitative methods available. Because of this, the discipline was regarded as more pseudoscientific. Even now, staunch Popperians cast doubt upon the falsifiability and therefore usefulness of psychology and the social sciences, although this is driven by a little scientific snobbery!
Thomas Kuhn was the next of the Twentieth Century to add to the history of the scientific method, by introducing the idea of paradigms. This particular idea was built around the idea that science developed conflicting theories about how everything worked. Experimentation would lead to one of these theories becoming dominant and accepted by the scientific community.
History of the Scientific Method
Kuhn christened this a 'scientific paradigm. He believed that a group of scientists would hold to a particular paradigm, often very stubbornly, until the body of evidence became so great that a ' paradigm shift ' became unavoidable. Scientists would then adopt the new paradigm and begin working within its constraints, although two paradigms were not necessarily mutually exclusive. For example, some physicists believed that electrons were particles; others believed that electrons were waves.
Eventually, physicists found that they acted as both and so the paradigms overlapped. Now, of course, quantum physics is opening up new definitions and the paradigm is shifting again.
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Psychology provides another perfect example of paradigm shift, in the form of the nature vs. Some psychologists argued that all behavior was inbuilt and dictated at birth, whilst others believed in the Tabula Rasa, a clean slate mind, where all programming was the result of upbringing, environmental stimuli and education. Currently, the current paradigm is that both have an important influence, and psychology and physiology seem to support this paradigm. The last of the three great philosophers behind the history of the scientific method is Paul Feyerabend, the scientific anarchist.
As Popper had realized that science had split into many differing disciplines, Feyerabend realized that these disciplines had become too complex to define by one overarching method.
In fact, Feyerabend believed that trying to force all scientific disciplines to follow a set of rules actually hampered science, creating false restrictions and barriers to progress. His famous philosophy of 'Anything Goes' was an attempt to address this, by arguing that scientists should not be influenced by 'arcane' philosophies.
He pointed to physics as an example of this, lamenting the abundance of physicists who had no grasp of philosophy, arguing that if they did not understand it, how could they be constrained by it? His strongest argument against the scientific method was that, historically, many great discoveries would not have been made if constrained by the strict limitations of the scientific method, pointing to the work of Galileo and Copernicus.
He believed that scientists often had to make up rules as they went along, adapting their methods to tackle new discoveries that could not be examined without breaking the established rules. He pointed out that scientific discovery progressed unevenly and that the greatest scientific leaps ignored the scientific method. If Copernicus, Darwin, Einstein or Wegener had stuck with the strict scientific method, they would never have published their theories and instead they would have become stuck in an endless loop of observation and experiment.
They would have been consigned to making small scientific leaps without ever gaining enough momentum and evidence to propose a grand and sweeping theory. After the long history of the scientific method, passing from the Greeks, the Muslims and the Renaissance, where does the modern scientific method stand?
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Certainly, the ideal scientific method does not work for all disciplines and they have to adapt and modify it. Perhaps the best way to look at the scientific method is on a disciplinary basis, as every scientific field seems to have developed its own philosophy.
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Physicists can follow Popperian ideas of method and falsification , whereas social scientists and behavioral biologists tend to line up behind Feyerabendian philosophy. Whatever method is accepted, the scientific method is built upon a long and ancient history and some of the greatest minds in the history of humanity have contributed to it. A single article cannot possibly do justice to this development and you will need to dig much more deeply if you wish to really understand the complexities.
For now, if you understand the basic principles affecting your discipline, your research will be perfectly acceptable and valid. Check out our quiz-page with tests about:. Martyn Shuttleworth Aug 18, History of the Scientific Method. Retrieved Sep 22, from Explorable. The text in this article is licensed under the Creative Commons-License Attribution 4. That is it. You can use it freely with some kind of link , and we're also okay with people reprinting in publications like books, blogs, newsletters, course-material, papers, wikipedia and presentations with clear attribution.
Definition of the Scientific Method. What is the Scientific Method. Who Invented the Scientific Method? Steps of the Scientific Method.
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