Deduction & Induction - Social Research Methods
Evidence | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Theories are both explanatory and predicting; they explain what is alreadyknown and they predict (and explain) what has not yet been discovered orobserved. Their predicting nature is what makes them testable. And it isalso what makes them particularly useful, for they are most useful whenthey predict particularly useful consequences which, though they are (inprinciple) observable, are not necessarily ones likely to be discoveredon their own, or by accident. If, for example, some theory of learningimplied that learning would occur ten times faster and be of twenty timeslonger duration under a relaxed hypnotic state, that would not only betestable, but if confirmed, might greatly influence practical educationalpractice.
Confirmation Bias – Communication Studies
The application of the scientific method is limited to independently observable, measurable events that can be reproduced. The scientific method is also applicable to random events that have statistical distributions. In atomic chemistry, for example, it is impossible to predict when one specific atom will decay and emit radiation, but it is possible to devise theories and formulas to predict when half of the atoms of a large sample will decay. Irreproducible results cannot be studied by the scientific method. There was one day when many car owners reported that the alarm systems of their cars were set off at about the same time without any apparent cause. Automotive engineers were not able to discover the reason because the problem could not be reproduced. They hypothesized that it could have been radio interference from a passing airplane, but they could not prove it one way or another. Mental conceptual experiences cannot be studied by the scientific method either. At this time there is no instrumentation that enables someone to monitor what anybody else conceives in their mind, although it is possible to determine which part of the brain is active during any given task. It is not possible to define experiments to determine objectively which works of art are "great", or whether Picasso was better than Matisse. So-called miracles are also beyond the scientific method. A person has tumors and faces certain death, and then, the tumors start shrinking and the person becomes healthy. What brought about the remission? A change in diet? A change in mental attitude? It is impossible to go back in time to monitor all variables that could have caused the cure, and it would be unethical to plant new tumors into the person to try to reproduce the results for a more careful study.