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STEP OR STAGE #10 of the Scientific Method


Scientific Method Activities

Throughout a project, a good researcher has an open mind and a skeptical, but practical, attitude, always suspending judgment to some degree. He or she is mentally prepared to be wrong.

You have spent a lot of time and effort applying the scientific method to reach a final scientific method conclusion, do not "fall in love" with your final hypothesis. Watch for other concepts or trains of thought.

An excellent description of this ingredient was given by Dr. Kenneth B. M. Crooks in his 1958 paper on the Scientific Method. Discussing the ingredient of "Suspended Judgment," he stated:

The investigator must stick to his conclusion until it is proved wrong, but he must keep an open mind and be ready to accept new evidence or speculations if sufficiently convincing. He is therefore ready to adjust his own views if they are untenable.

This is the crux of the scientific attitude: an abiding faith in some view or opinion allied to a healthy skepticism; a questioning challenging doubt of new ideas; but a mind definitely open to new ideas.

This sounds conflicting, but it is not. The true scientist or the citizen with a scientific attitude is no bigoted stand-patter, but he is no wishy-washy turn-coat either; he does not go chasing after strange idols just because they are new, nor does he condemn another idea just because it is old.

He realizes that truth is not simple, that knowledge is forever growing, and that opinions thought correct today in the light of present knowledge may be thought incorrect tomorrow because of new discoveries or the projection of new ideas.

Using the Scientific Method

There can be great flexibility in the order in which SM-14 steps or stages are utilized. Steps or stages are numbered and in their usual order of use.

Utilizing the ingredients in solving a problem, you may often:
1. Skip ahead
2. Backtrack
3. Stall
4. Loop ahead or back
5. Combine two or more ingredients
6. Use various combinations

In many of the methods used under the steps or stages, there may be steps or rules to follow.

Scientific Method Activities

Develop Your Communication Skills

Educators and employers increasingly stress the importance of verbal and written communication skills. There is a movement to teach writing across the curricula.

Develop proficiency in the following:

  • How to write a report
  • Spelling and punctuation
  • Public speaking
  • English grammar
  • Subject terminology
  • Vocabulary
  • English composition
  • Communication knowledge
  • Self-confidence

Scientific Method in Psychology

Keep Your Mental Process Open

Even after reaching your conclusion, keep your mind open, thinking, and be prepared to be wrong. Charles R. Foster, in Psychology for Life Today (1966, 16th printing) describes our thinking process:

In psychology the term thinking is usually applied to that type of mental process which we identify as problem solving. There are, however, a number of kinds of mental activity, which are sometimes referred to as thinking.

There is a general "stream of consciousness" of which we are aware during all or most of our waking movements. A succession of ideas, images, reveries, and associations streams through our mind, and we are aware, if we stop to contemplate it, of this activity of ours.

In most present-day psychology, however, when the subject of thinking is under consideration, the phase of it which has to do with reasoning or problem solving is of chief concern. Hence, in this chapter we are confining our discussion to the psychology of thinking as problem solving.

We are omitting any consideration of thinking as reverie, or as daydreaming in the usual sense of the term - we are thinking mainly of what occurs, in our mental processes as we deal with the everyday problems of life.