Scientific Method

The scientific method is a series of steps

 – Observation

 – Research

 – Hypothesis

 – Test with Experiment

 – Analyse Data

 – Report conclusion

This is prescribed by every university in the world as the blueprint to create knowledge. I think this is a huge problem. Here is why…

Take for instance the theory of relativity, Einstein hypothesised about the theory decades before we would be able to observe the effects that the theory predicted. It was a moment of thoughtful genius that led to the theory of relativity. Almost all of the things we know about this world started out as hypotheses more often than observations.

Observation is only possible when you know what to look for. Problems at a universal scale are hard to observe first-hand.

Even today, it is easier to prove that the earth is flat if we were to depend solely on observation. To show that the earth round requires a conceptual leap.

Laura Beloff’s plant seemed to be clicking. She had rigged its roots up to a contact microphone in order to detect faint, high-pitched clicks in the soil. With the help of software she had written for her computer, the frequency of the clicks had been lowered, making them audible to humans.

As she worked at her desk, the plant apparatus next to her happily chattered away. And that’s when it happened. “This was the weirdest thing,” says Beloff, an artist and associate professor at Aalto University in Finland. A visitor came into her room, at which point the plant’s clicking stopped. When the visitor left, the clicking resumed. Later, more people arrived and, again, the clicking ceased. It only recommenced when the people departed. “I still don’t know what to think about it,” says Beloff.

Source: BBC

You have to assume… sorry hypothesise, that the plants would have something to say even before you decide to stick a mic in there.

It was in a much-cited paper published in 2012 that she and her co-authors reported the detection of clicking noises from plant roots. The researchers used a laser vibrometer to detect these sounds right at the root tips. Gagliano says that the laser was trained on the roots when they were submerged in water in a lab setting, to help ensure that the detected sounds were indeed emanating from the roots themselves.

To say that those clicks have any communicative function requires further evidence, however. Gagliano says that she has observed plant roots responding to sounds at similar frequencies by changing their direction of growth.


She says that this experience is “outside the strictly scientific realm” and that a third-party observer would not be able to measure the sounds she heard with laboratory instruments. But she is quite certain that she has perceived plants speaking to her on multiple occasions.

Source: BBC

The other problem is that ‘Test with experiment’ is only possible if you have the equipment capable of measuring and the framework meant to understand what is going on. Marie Curie lost her life studying Uranium radiation. She did not know either the effects of radiation or how to measure it.

Isaac Newton laid down some of the most important scientific theories we read today. He also was enamoured by alchemy and tried converting many elements into others. Alas! he did not know nuclear physics back then. But he had the right idea. Even today, he is ridiculed for his ideas of alchemy. 

The scientific method only works with known knows or known unknowns. The universe is filled with unknown unknowns; what about that?

Think about all the PhD students toiling away on useless research because this is the method they are mandated to follow. The scientific method is holding science back.






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