What are some misconceptions
regarding the scientific method?
1. A hypothesis is not by its nature untested. And being
tested once is not the end of the process.
Testing of some hypotheses may go on
2. Scientists should not try to prove hypotheses valid or
invalid, but must be open to either possibility.
Reduces scientists’ biases that may
consciously or unconsciously lead them to ignore or rule out data
according to those biases.
3. The scientific method does not prove anything TRUE.
Science is done by humans, not
all-seeing, infallible, omnipotent beings, and its very nature requires
that we do not think of science proving things true…
Some Specific Reasons
a. Can’t test every case.
It only takes one case to falsify a
hypothesis. How many cases does it take to prove it true?
b. Two or more competing hypotheses can be proposed to explain a
Even with testing it is sometimes
difficult to rule out competing hypotheses.
c. There may be a better explanation.
New information or new techniques or
simply a different way of looking at the world may lead to development
of new explanations or an expansion of the previous explanation.
d. There can be human bias, error, or fraud.
- misinterpret the data.
- consciously or unconsciously set up an experiment in a way that will
support their hypothesis.
- consciously or unconsciously disregard data that don’t support their
- falsify data.
e. There can be mechanical or technological error.
f. Thinking a hypothesis is “true” turns scientific thought into
dogma and blocks development of new explanations.