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The Scientific Method …lots and lots and lots of math. 2/18/1996.

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Presentation on theme: "The Scientific Method …lots and lots and lots of math. 2/18/1996."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Scientific Method …lots and lots and lots of math. 2/18/1996

2 Goal What is the scientific method? What does the scientific method assume? Does the scientific method work? What is not a scientific argument. Does astrology follow the scientific method?

3 What is science? Science is a tool. Medicine: I have high cholesterol, what should I do? –Take cholesterol lowering medication. –Consult your astrologer. –Pray to the god Baal and sacrifice a goat.

4 The Scientific Method 1.Observe an event. 2.Develop a model (or hypothesis) which makes a prediction. 3.Test the prediction. 4.Observe the result. 5.Revise the hypothesis. 6.Repeat as needed. 7.A successful hypothesis becomes a Scientific Theory. model test

5 Medical Science Scientific MethodHigh Cholesterol ObservationPatient has high cholesterol Hypothesis (prediction) Certain chemicals may dissolve cholesterol deposits. TestGive 100 patients these chemicals, give 100 patients placebo. Observe resultSame number lower their cholesterol as placebo patients. Revise hypothesis? Try different combo of chemicals. New test?Re-run medical test. Observe results. Scientific TheoryLipitor reduces cholesterol.

6 Everyday Science Scientific MethodCar Repair ObservationEngine wont turn over. Hypothesis (prediction)Predict battery is dead. TestReplace battery. Observe resultEngine now turns over. Revise hypothesis?Not needed. New test?Not needed. Scientific TheoryCars wont work without a fully charged battery.

7 Everyday Science Scientific MethodMaking Spaghetti Sauce ObservationSpaghetti sauce should be red. Hypothesis (prediction) Try a tomato sauce. TestHeat pot of tomato sauce. Observe resultTaste the sauce - bland. Revise hypothesis?Use tomato sauce and garlic! New test?Add garlic, taste - not so bland. Scientific TheoryThe Final Recipe.

8 Food Science Throwing something together Hypothesis Your grandmothers time-tested recipe Scientific Theory.

9 Repeatability A successful theory is repeatable. –By you. –By anyone. Examples: –Cold Fusion (1989) –Ecstasy (Science, 2003)

10 Requirements Objective reality –We all see the same world. Constant Laws of Nature –What happens here, happens there. –What happened yesterday will happen tomorrow. The Cosmos is knowable.

11 Does it work? Scientific Method is a tool. Does this tool work? –Life expectancy –Mortality rates Are there better tools?

12 Recap: Theories, Guesses, Laws What does the word Theory mean to you? A conjecture; guess (Websters Dictionary) Does it mean the same to a scientist? A model which has been born out by repeated tests and observation. Is a Theory less than a Law? Evolution is just a theory, it is not a fact. Do Theories grow up to be Laws? Einsteins Theory of Relativity

13 Theories So: a theory is a highly successful hypothesis. All hypotheses make predictions. All theories make predictions. All theories can be tested. Result: Any scientific theory is subject to change as our ability to make tests, or make observations of a tests results, improves with time.

14 Non-scientific Theories Make no predictions Un-testable Cant be falsified

15 Non-scientific Theories Car wont work? Aliens drained the battery. Spaghetti is bland? You were meant to eat bland food. Car wont work? Gods must be angry. Spaghetti is bland? At the instant of tasting, tongue is transported to alternate dimension where all flavors are rendered nullified. Happens instantaneously.

16 Non-scientific Theories The chain of events needed for life to arise is too complicated to have happened by chance, a divine intelligence must therefore have caused life to arise (Intelligent Design). Face on Mars. Viking Orbiter (1976)Mars Global Surveyor (1998)

17 Falsification A real Scientific Theory tells you what observations are necessary to falsify it. –Not so proponents of: Face on Mars Moon Hoax Intelligent Design Astrologers

18 Astrology Tests What test would falsify astrology?

19 Astrology and the President (TIME, May 16, 1988) -- The First Lady dabbled in astrology as far back as 1967. In 1981 [Joan] Quigley made Nancy a believer …. And from then on, no presidential public appearance was slated without the Friend's say-so. To this day, Nancy's Friend continues to influence the President's schedule. For the Reagan- Gorbachev Washington summit, she cast the charts of both men and determined that 2 p.m. on Dec. 8, 1987, was the most propitious moment for them to sign the intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty. At Nancy's behest, the entire summit was built around that hour. For the upcoming Moscow summit, Gorbachev's chart (he is a Pisces) has been recast alongside Reagan's (Aquarius). [Former White House Chief of Staff, Donald] Regan and others make a compelling case that in 1986 and 1987 astrological influence dramatically reduced the presidency's effectiveness, at least partly, by keeping Ronald Reagan under wraps for much of the time. Nancy's intrusions in the scheduling process, Regan said in an interview with TIME last week, began to interfere with the normal conduct of the presidency. (TIME, May 16, 1988)

20 HW#3 Devise a scientific test for some pseudoscience (astrology, tarot, etc). –What claim are you testing? –How will you test it? Due Tuesday 16 th.

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