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STEP OR STAGE #8 of the Scientific Method


Review the Starting Guides Listed
at the Beginning of Step or Stage #6

The degree of challenge to your hypothesis will depend on the type of problem and its importance. It can range from just seeking "a good enough " solution (but not a haphazard or lazy one) to the much more rigorous challenge

Scientific Method Test

To accommodate a broad range, Dr. Crooks used the term "Challenge." Most of the old formulas for "The Scientific Method" use the terms verification, justification, refutability, validity, rectification, falsification, testing the theories, test prediction, experimentation to test, look back, and many similar terms, indicating that the hypothesis should be challenged.

Scientific Method Hypothesis

Experimenting, Testing, & Challenging the Hypothesis

  • Falsification: Sir Karl Popper advocates trying to prove a hypothesis to be false rather than trying to prove it right. This may save time and avoid bias.

  • Verification: Many disagree with his falsification theory and believe various methods should be used to verify the hypothesis.

  • Who Is Right?: This is an extremely controversial and difficult question to answer. Try both approaches mentioned above. Gather evidence both for and against your hypothesis.

  • Predictions: Use to challenge your hypothesis. Under Step or Stage #7, you made certain predictions that resulted from your hypothesis. The way to challenge your hypothesis is to try to prove these false, probably true, or supported.

  • Modify Your Hypothesis: In testing your predictions, if you find something wrong, backtrack to Step or Stage #7, modify your hypothesis, and change your predictions. If it fails completely, backtrack to STEP OR STAGE #4 or #5. We learn from failures.

  • Scientific Method Controls & Variables: Vary one thing at a time - make notes on each.

Scientific Method Test

Repeatability of Your Tests & Experiments:

For your hypothesis to be accepted by others, your testing results must be able to be repeated by you and those who will want to verify your theory.

Log all tests Results must fit known "facts"
Be accurate Report unknowns
Review data Control stress
Try for simplicity Results must be consistent
Get advice Use method of comparison
Use sampling Use statistical verification
Use math Experiments must be complete enough

Scientific Method Hypothesis

Other Suggestions:
  • Fault Tree - Prepare one on how your hypothesis or tests can possibly fail.
  • Alternate Hypothesis - Be curious, observant, and alert for a better hypothesis.
  • Dis-Confirming Evidence - Don't ignore, follow up. Be critical.
  • Competing Hypotheses - Verify by eliminating these, but remain flexible.
  • Some Hypotheses Not Verifiable - When in social science, geological fields, etc.
  • Consequences and Contingencies - What results from your hypothesis?

Scientific Method Practice:
Things to Include in Lesson Plans on Scientific Method

Predicting & Prevention

Prediction has always been a big feature of the scientific method, whenever it is used. Once a working hypothesis is arrived at, you make predictons to challenge what will happen if they are correct. From them, you can do tests and experiments to determine whether these are correct or false.

Forecasting the Future

Forecasting the future is extremely difficult. Plain guesses and gut intuition are often used but not very reliable. Actually, there is no reliable method. But, of all the methods, the most reliable one is to follow the steps or stages of the scientific method.


While the scientific method is famous for its use in discoveries, it is also the method of prevention.

It is not logical to wait till problems develop or till decisions have to be made after trouble occurs. Therefore, the use of curious observation (Step or Stage #1 of SM-14) must also be used to look for things that may happen and that need to be prevented.

The importance of prevention and forecasting are more reasons why everyone should learn, teach and practice using the scientific method.