Methods of scientific thought

A key element of the scientific method is having sound logic behind your reasoning.  Without a logical sequence of steps in your research, your results may not be valid.  In thinkerclassic logic, true statements and sound reasoning lead to correct solutions.  This is most commonly encountered in mathematics. 

For most scientific research, there are a few types of scientific thought that are utilized; empiricism, positivism, and falsification.

Empiricism is the pursuit of knowledge by observation and experiment.  There are two subsets of empiricism, induction and deduction, with the main difference between the two being the order in which analysis is done.  In deduction, you first form a distinct theory, and then experimentally test and analyze that theory.  Induction first collects and analyzes the data, and from that allows you to form the theory. For example, Darwin used induction when formulating his theory of evolution.  

As you may expect, positivism and falsification are related. The quote from Einstein at the beginning of this module results from these.  Positivism requires you to design your experiment to prove a hypothesis. Typically, it will not be possible to prove something to be true, but will result in increased certainty that your hypothesis is correct.  Falsification is the opposite, where you will work to refute the hypothesis.  If successful, it results in absolute certainty that the hypothesis is incorrect.

As you continue to do research, these are not usually matters which you will consciously think about, but the process will become part of what you do.  It is important that you realize that good research follows a process, and that to become successful, you have to understand these processes.

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