THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD:
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
Fifi, the Flea, Guest Writer
CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS is now located at Carolyn’s Online Magazine.
I invite you to visit the new site and to subscribe to the site to receive notification of future posts.
NOTE: I found the following undated paper, titled The Scientific Method: Its Advantages and Disadvantages, in my files. It was written for a philosophy class while I was a college student. It received a P+ grade.
Hi! My name is Fifi, the Famous Flea. I’m a unique flea—because I’m a thinking flea. This seeming absurdity enables me to observe Man and come to some objective conclusions about His “way of life.” Let me begin with what Man considers His greatest asset to progress in the 20th century—namely, the scientific method.
The scientific method is particularly responsible for Man’s modern position—and His dilemma.
To apply the scientific method, there must first be DOUBT, or inquiry, either in the form of an original question or in the form of questioning another man’s truths.
Man, to find an answer to that doubt, evolved the SCIENTIFIC METHOD, in which EXPERIMENT (that is, observation and reason)) plays a prominent role. How does Man apply this procedure? Let me use examples from one Man’s diary—Dr. X.
Dr. X notices some phenomena in another man, Z. A question arises: Is Z in good health or not? There is doubt. Dr. X, using the scientific method, has universally accepted facts, proven previously by the scientific method. (Otherwise, a lifetime would be taken up repeating experiments that have already proven to be true.) This is acceptable on the basis that, should He ever have any doubt about a fact, He can set up an experiment of his own and either confirm or deny the truth in question.
Observations are made by Dr. X and his assistant: Z has extremely flushed skin, a temperature of 106 degrees F, and a white cell count of 2.5 times the norm. Dr. X reasons and concludes, on the basis of these known facts, that Z is not in good health.
A new question has arisen from the answer to the first question. What is the cause of Z’s ill health?
Dr. X makes an educated guess: Z has an infection. This raises another question—What kind of infection?
Again, reason enters and a method must be devised to attain the truth. Pathological bacteria cause infections. Test for bacteria. Tests prove there are bacteria present in Z’s throat.
Previous experiments have shown that antibiotics can kill the pathological bacteria. Treat Z with the proper antibiotic. Observation: Z’s phenomena disappear within 24 hours. Reason concludes that the diagnosis was correct and Z is on the road to recovery. However, if the phenomena had not subsided further questions would arise. For example, Was the treatment correct or could the infection have arisen elsewhere?
There is a key factor in Man’s scientific method: Man is searching for an absolute truth, which can be disproved with only one negative test result. Science is never absolutely certain of its result because it is impossible to check every infection there ever was, so the one negative case might never be found. It is impossible to universally check any fact. Thus Man never has the complete reassurance of truth. (more…)