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What is the Scientific Method?. 1. Observation : often based on reading about work of others; leads to Question 2. Hypothesis : an educated guess Leads to specific predictions for testing Consider Alternative Hypotheses

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What is the scientific method l.jpg
What is the Scientific Method?

1. Observation: often based on reading about work of others; leads to Question

2. Hypothesis: an educated guess

  • Leads to specific predictions for testing

  • Consider Alternative Hypotheses

  • Null Hypothesis: if able to reject  evidence for hypothesis

    3. Gather Data and/or Conduct Experiment:

  • Data obtained carefully; quantitative data measured (vs. estimated)

  • Experimental Approach

    • Manipulation of variable in Treatment Group

    • Control Group meant to account for all other potential sources of variation; used for comparison to Treatment Group

      4. Interpretation of Results:

  • Summary statistics: mean, standard deviation, etc.

  • Hypothesis testing (via statistics): can null hypothesis be rejected?

    5. Conclusions:

  • Suggestions for subsequent studies commonly arise

  • Note potential sources of error (ex., accuracy of measurements)


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What is Pseudoscience?

  • Not science done badly – An attempt to mimic the authority, credentials of science (to seem scientific)

  • Often debatable/contentious if pseudoscience

  • “Marks” of pseudoscience

    • Refusal to revise, even in light of validated criticisms, admitted errors

    • Pre-set agenda; non-objective; ignore results that weaken agenda; search for data that support agenda

    • Main arguments based on analogy and/or logically weak

  • Selected Examples of Pseudoscience (past and present)

    • Spirit photography (when cameras were new and mysterious)

    • Crystal power (Sedona, Arizona - a mystical nexus?)

    • Anti-cancer craze with shark-cartilage pills (clinical study with large sample size showed no effect on spread of cancers)

    • Foot baths for treating autism and removing “toxins”

    • Examples from Junk Science (healing transmitted via radio waves, bite-mark expert, nuclear fusion?)


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