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Chapter 1: The Scientific Method

by: Breanna

Chapter 1: The Scientific Method BI 101

Marketplace > Grand Rapids Community College > Biology > BI 101 > Chapter 1 The Scientific Method
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About this Document

Reviewing and learning the scientific method and its steps.
General Biology
Jocelyn Wiltrakis
Class Notes
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Breanna on Saturday September 17, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to BI 101 at Grand Rapids Community College taught by Jocelyn Wiltrakis in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 6 views. For similar materials see General Biology in Biology at Grand Rapids Community College.


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Date Created: 09/17/16
1.1 The Process of Science ● Scientific Method ­ a systematic method of research consisting of putting a  hypothesis to a test designed to disprove it, if it is in fact false ● The Nature of Hypotheses ○ Hypothesis ­ tentative explanation for an observation that requires  testing to validate ○ All hypotheses must be testable! ■ Possible to evaluate through observations of the  measurable universe ■ Ex: the statement “colds are generated by  disturbances in psychic energy” is not a testable statement ○ Supernatural ­ not constrained by the laws of nature ○ All hypotheses must also be falsifiable! ■ Falsifiable ­ able to be proven false ■ Statements that are value judgements are not  scientific; they are impossible to falsify ● Scientific Theories ○ Scientific Theory ­ body of scientifically accepted general  principles that explain natural phenomena ○ Based on well­supported hypotheses and supported by different,  independent lines of research ■ Ex: chronic stomach ulcers ● Widely thought to be caused by  spicy foods, but now theorized to be caused by the H. pylori  bacteria ● The Logic of Hypothesis Testing ○ Inductive Reasoning ­ a logical process that argues from specific  instances to a general conclusion ■ Using inductive reasoning to form a hypothesis  does not make it true; MUST BE FALSIFIABLE! ○ Deductive Reasoning ­ making a prediction about the outcome of  a test; if/then statements ○ Prediction ­ result expected from a particular test of a hypothesis,  if the hypothesis were true ○ If the hypothesis is not disproven, it still isn't proven; RE­TESTING REQUIRED ■ Alternative Hypothesis ­ factor other than the tested hypothesis that may explain observations 1.2 Hypothesis Testing ● Truth is what we know and understand based on all currently available  information ● The Experimental Method ○ Experiment ­ contrived situation designed to test specific  hypotheses ○ Must eliminate all hypotheses that don't explain the cause of the  hypothesis ○ Not all hypotheses are tested in a lab ■ Ex: dinosaur extinction ○ Data ­ information collected by scientists during hypothesis testing ○ Variable ­ a factor that varies in a population over time ■ Dependent Variable ­ the variable in a study that is  expected to change in response to changes in the independent variable ● AKA: the variable that changes ■ Independent Variable ­ a factor whose value  influences the value of the dependent variable, but is not influenced by it ● AKA: the variable that is measured ● Controlled Experiments ○ Control ­ subject who is similar to the experimental subject, but is  not exposed to the experimental treatment ■ The experimental group are those who receive the  experimental treatment ■ Instead, they receive a placebo treatment ● Sham treatments in experiments ○ Random Assignment ­ placing individual into experimental and  control group randomly to eliminate systematic differences between the groups ○ All subjects must be treated equally ● Minimizing Bias in Experimental Design ○ Bias ­ influence of research participants’ opinions on experimental  results ■ Subject expectation can affect the result of the  experiment (they model the behavior they think they should be exhibiting) ○ Blind Experiment ­ test in which subjects are not aware of exactly  what they are predicted to experience ○ Observer bias is caused by consistent error in the measurement  and evaluation of results ○ Double Blind ­ experimental design protocol when both research  subjects and scientists performing the measurements are unaware of either the  experimental hypothesis or who is in the control or experimental group ○ Objective ­ without bias ● Using Correlation to Test Hypothesis ○ Correlation DOES NOT imply causation ■ Correlation ­ describes a relationship between two  factors ○ Sometimes though, well­controlled experiments are impossible,  dangerous, or unethical ○ Model System ­ any nonhuman group of organisms used in  genetic studies to help scientists understand human genes because they share  genes with humans ■ While the practice of testing model systems and  animals might be more ethical, it also has it’s limits 1.3 Understanding Statistics ● In scientific studies, significance is defined differently than normally ● What Statistical Tests Can Tell Us ○ Statistics ­ specialized branch of mathematics used in the  evaluation of experimental data ○ Sample ­ sample subgroup of a population used in an  experimental test ■ Can be used to summarize data ■ An experiment on a sample group can only  estimate the treatment effect ○ Mean ­ average value of a group of measurements ○ Statistical Tests ­ mathematical formulation that helps scientists  evaluates whether the results of a single experiment demonstrates the effect of  the treatment ○ Statistically Significant ­ said of results for which there is a low  probability that the experimental groups differ simply by chance ● The Problem of Sampling Error ○ Sampling Error ­ effect of chance on experimental results ○ Probability ­ likelihood that something is the case or will happen ○ Standard Error ­ a measure of the variance of a sample; the  average distance a single is from the mean value for the sample ● Factor that Influence Statistical Significance ○ Sample Size ­ number of individuals in both the experimental and  control groups ○ A statistically significant result is typically defined as one has a  probability of 5% or less of being due to chance alone 1.4 Evaluating Scientific Information ● Primary Sources ○ Primary Source ­ article reporting research results, written by  researchers, and reviewed by the scientific community ○ Peer Review ­ the process by which reports of scientific research  are examined and critiqued by other researcher before they are published in  scholarly journals ■ Ex: Science, Nature, and The Journal of the  American Medical Association ○ Secondary Sources ­ books, news media, and advertisements as  sources of scientific information ● Information from Anecdotes ○ Anecdotal Evidence ­ information based on an individual’s  personal experience ■ Be cautious of anecdotal evidence ● Science in the News ○ Difficult to determine the quality of research


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