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(Text as at 12/08/2007 10:17:46)
As an activity, science is a method of asking and answering questions about the world. Any discipline that asks questions that are capable of being answered by controlled observation (ie. by experiment) may be termed a science. Hence, the historical & social sciences may be so categorised along with the physical sciences.
- A naive view of the application of scientific method to some subset of experience runs somewhat as follows:
- Gather & classify as many relevant types of data in this subset of experience as are available.
- Develop a set of internally consistent models to account for this data.
- Select the best fit model which satisfies the extra demands of conformity with other established laws. This may lead either to a new law or (more frequently) to an explanation of the phenomena within the framework of established laws.
- If no adequate model exists, examine the established laws to see whether they require modification. This is a very rare event, leading to what Thomas Kuhn refers to as a paradigm shift.
- Once an adequate model has been developed, test it against new data not used in the development of the model. This further testing will establish firstly the truth and secondly the scope and boundaries of the model.
- The most fruitful application of the scientific method has been in the physical sciences.
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