All empirical science is based on the use of the scientific method. It is through this that the empirical sciences have developed consistently throughout history and have become what they are today. And we point to the empirical sciences given that sometimes we talk about science to refer to disciplines such as philosophy or psychology, which do not necessarily use this method in their procedures (but in the latter case, to complement, if extensive use is made of disciplines like statistics, where scientific categorization would also apply). In these disciplines, in particular, we could say that there is a systematic study of the subjects, which is why some authors include them among the sciences, in the broadest etymological sense of the word (it comes from Latin).
What is the scientific method?
Returning to the subject in question, the usual among the authors is to refer to the sciences as those disciplines that use the so-called scientific method to validate their knowledge. And what is? Well, it can be defined as a procedure that is followed to consistently validate a hypothesis. There are many definitions, but basically, it is that. And expressed in steps, we can describe that there is a process of observation , then based on experience, a hypothesis is formulated to explain the observed, experiments are made to test this hypothesis based on predictions that emerge from it, and it is refined this hypothesis to the point where the observation is satisfactorily explained, where a final theory . Different texts will make more or fewer divisions to explain it, but basically, it is that.
In short, to explain it in another way the scientific method, consists first of an observation, which leads to a hypothesis, which must be checked or discarded. Likewise, a series of predictions will be inferred from this hypothesis, which will be verified by experiments in the laboratory; It is important to point out that every observed event must be reproducible in order for the hypothesis verification to be effective. Finally, the hypothesis will be refuted or demonstrated, by means of the previous step.
It may seem obvious. But before this procedure was used systematically there were great problems for science to develop as a consistent discipline. And there were many unfounded claims about the most varied phenomena that would make us laugh today. Francis Bacon is considered as the “father” of the scientific method, for the ideas expressed in his 1620 publication called “Novum Organum”, and also to René Descartes, for what he expressed in his work “Discourse on the method”, of the year 1637. And for this reason, it is said that since the seventeenth century the sciences have widely adopted this structuring in their search for truth and knowledge.
Science and absolute truth
Now, although the scientific method is a powerful form of proof of the empirical sciences, they do not always manage to reach absolute truth. In fact, they are not infallible and new phenomena that refute hypotheses or previous theories, which should refine with more experimentation in order to arrive at new hypotheses and theories. That is, theories can quickly demolish when new phenomena are found that are not explained by them or that contradict them. What if, thanks to theories, although they are fallible, is that the scientist can make predictions about the behavior of the object of his study. It is a way of being able to anticipate the facts, on the basis of science and the scientific method as a whole.
The scientific method is not complex
In itself, the scientific method, despite being the backbone of the sciences, is not very complex. Explained as we have just done, we can realize that without knowing we use it informally when we want to solve a problem, given that we are educated in a system that has completely internalized it. In fact, their steps, with some variations, people can follow with very rudimentary knowledge about the empirical sciences, like children still in school stage, where they will learn to use this method. There is no need to observe carefully any phenomenon of nature that catches our attention. Later, we will look for why this phenomenon occurs. That is, it must infer, and how that phenomenon occurs.
In this sense, it is said that we “deduce” the mechanism after the phenomenon. And by an inductive procedure, we put it into practice. Then we make predictions, that is, we propose different scenarios trying to know what will happen, with variables that we manipulate for it. The crucial step will then be the experimentation in the laboratory, where we will see if we have made a mistake or not with our hypothesis, and it is important to mention that the mistake in this sense is not a failure, since we can use the method again as many times as we want, until arrive at a satisfactory result.
In fact, this has been the way in which diverse connoted scientists have managed to develop their theories that have amazed the intellectual world, and on the other hand, they have allowed in an almost anonymous way the development of the technologies that move the current world, in every sense. So we can summarize what is the scientific method and its particular role in the empirical sciences, the endless search for the truth about natural phenomena, which makes them particularly entertaining and dynamic.