Lessons on the Scientific Method:
#5 of 5 on Basic Theories of Scientific Method

Practical Application of the Scientific Method

Using the Scientific Method

Involved is:

    Intuitive problem solving and decision making Following a Short Model Formula Following the complete SM-14 model formula
They are explained here.

Problem Solving and Decision Making Skills

In the course of research and problem solving, you make hundreds of decisions and other problem solutions every day, usually based on your intuition. These are called by such names as intuitive decisions, instantaneous decisions, gut feelings, leaps of understanding, hunches, arbitrary guesses, jumping to conclusions, hasty decisions, sixth sense, quick guesses, snap judgments, and other terms.

Many of these problems and decisions are simple, unimportant, and in the habit-type class. Others are of varied importance that you make instantly because of time urgency, a good enough answer will suffice, or you correctly or incorrectly have confidence in your intuition. Often you have no control. The solution or decision just pops up. Intuitions may also develop from observations or unconsciously over a period of time.

What Is Intuition? – An Important Feature in Learning the Scientific Method

There are disagreements as to what it really is. It is often difficult to distinguish between illumination and intuition. Intuitive thinking enables you to unconsciously utilize hundreds and thousands of bits and pieces of knowledge you possess in memory. Your mind functions fast, without any realization of a detailed review of a process of analytical reasoning. In seconds you can have a leap of understanding or it can warn you, encourage you, provide an answer or inkling, a criticism, a prediction, an idea, or a solution.

Many intuitive thoughts may be important, so too many errors of intuition can hurt your success, relationships, or reputation for research, problem solving, and decision making skills. Therefore, it is important and up to you to develop your intuitive base.

#Your Intuitive Base or Brain Skill – Stress in Teaching the Scientific Method

This is very important to everyone and especially for those in research and managerial positions. A good intuitive base depends on a great number of things, such as:

    Curiosity A good memory Freedom from biases
Creative ability Emotional stability An extensive body of knowledge
    A variety of experience memories and accurate interpretation of them Memory of other peoples’ experiences and accurate interpretation of them Ability to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant concepts Good reasoning and analytical ability

Note: The above attributes also describe a person with wisdom as well as good judgment.

A Short Model – SM-4

Need for a Short Simple Scientific Method Model – Important Feature in Learning the Scientific Method

Complex decisions should normally be put through all the steps or stages of the scientific method. However, a shorter formula is needed for:

    An easily remembered formula you can use at any time. Decisions not complex enough or important enough to spend the time and effort going through the 11 stages of SM-14. The problem or decision you are working on is important but urgency is so great there is no time to go through the 11 stages of SM-14. You are in a place or situation in which research facilities are not available.

Teaching the Scientific Method

Many of the progressive authors of books on the scientific method offer formulas that range from three steps or stages to eight or more. The trouble is that for widespread teaching of scientific method we need a short formula suitable as a standard. It should also be an abbreviated version of a complex formula such as SM-14.

Good Short Model – Four Steps or Stages

Here is one that I recommend. Commit it to memory and use it often.

4-Step Short Model
of the Scientific Method 
Brief Description Step or
of SM-14

Problem (Define carefully) #2
Alternatives (Search and generate) #5
Evaluate (Based on evidence select best) #6
Challenge (Check to be sure it is best) #8

Importance of the Scientific Method Full Model – SM-14

Your ability to be successful in using the abbreviated model depends on knowing how to use the full model. So study the SM-14 model for the scientific method.

Coming up next is two pages of detail about each step or stage and about each supporting ingredient.