Scientific method

The scientific method is often represented as an ongoing process. This diagram represents one variant, and there are many others.
Precession of the perihelion – exaggerated in the case of Mercury, but observed in the case of S2's apsidal precession around Sagittarius A*
Einstein's prediction (1907): Light bends in a gravitational field
Model of DNA with David Deutsch, proponent of invariant scientific explanations (2009)

Empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science since at least the 17th century .

- Scientific method

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Generally a questioning attitude or doubt towards one or more putative instances of knowledge which are asserted to be mere belief or dogma.

The red dots show every U.S. metropolitan area where over 50% non-rhotic speech has been documented among some of that area's local white speakers in the twenty-first century. Non-rhotic speech may be heard from black speakers throughout the whole country.

Scientific skepticism advocates for testing beliefs for reliability, by subjecting them to systematic investigation using the scientific method, to discover empirical evidence for them.


Chronology of the universe as deduced by the prevailing Big Bang theory, a result from science and obtained knowledge
The first diagram of an evolutionary tree made by Charles Darwin in 1837
First global view of the ozone hole in 1983, using a space telescope
Radio light image of M87* black hole, made by the earth-spanning Event Horizon Telescope array in 2019
Supply and demand curve in economics, crossing over at the optimal equilibrium
A steam turbine with the case opened, such turbines produce most of the electricity used today
A diagram variant of scientific method represented as an ongoing process
Cover of the first issue of Nature, 4 November 1869
For Kuhn, the addition of epicycles in Ptolemaic astronomy was "normal science" within a paradigm, whereas the Copernican revolution was a paradigm shift.
Marie Curie was the first person to be awarded two Nobel Prizes: Physics in 1903 and Chemistry in 1911.
Picture of scientists in 200th anniversary of the Prussian Academy of Sciences, 1900
Medal of the Nobel Prize, one of the most well-known science awards
Budget of NASA as percentage of United States federal budget, peaking at 4.4% in 1966 and slowly decline since
Dinosaur exhibit in the Houston Museum of Natural Science

Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.

Francis Bacon

English philosopher and statesman who served as Attorney General and as Lord Chancellor of England.

Portrait by Paul van Somer I, 1617
The young Bacon – inscription around his head reads: Si tabula daretur digna animum mallem, Latin for "If one could but paint his mind" – National Portrait Gallery, London
The Italianate York Water Gate – the entry to York House, built about 1626, the year of Bacon's death
Bacon's statue at Gray's Inn, South Square, London
Memorial to Bacon in the chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge
Sir Francis Bacon, c. 1618
Bacon and the members of the Parliament on the day of his political fall
Engraving of Alice Barnham
Monument to Bacon at his burial place, St Michael's Church in St Albans
Bacon, Sylva sylvarum
Frontispiece to 'The History of Royal-Society of London', picturing Bacon (to the right) among the founding influences of the Society – National Portrait Gallery, London
A Newfoundland stamp, which reads "Lord Bacon – the guiding spirit in colonization scheme"
Statue of Bacon in the Library of Congress, Washington, DC
An old volume of Bacon and a rose

His works are seen as contributing to the scientific method and remained influential through the later stages of the scientific revolution.


Familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts , skills (procedural knowledge), or objects (acquaintance knowledge), often contributing to understanding.

Los portadores de la antorcha (The Torch-Bearers) – Sculpture by Anna Hyatt Huntington symbolizing the transmission of knowledge from one generation to the next (Ciudad Universitaria, Madrid, Spain)
Sir Francis Bacon, "Knowledge is Power"
The parable of the blind men and the elephant suggests that people tend to project their partial experiences as the whole truth

Science tries to acquire knowledge using the scientific method, which is based on repeatable experimentation, observation, and measurement.


Standard of evaluation of scientific theories and hypotheses that was introduced by the philosopher of science Karl Popper in his book The Logic of Scientific Discovery .

Here are two black swans, but even with no black swans to possibly falsify it, "All swans are white" would still be shown falsifiable by "Here is a black swan"—a black swan would still be a state of affairs, only an imaginary one.
A black-bodied and white-bodied peppered moth
Clyde Cowan conducting the neutrino experiment (c. 1956)

One of the questions in scientific method is: how does one move from observations to scientific laws?


Theory that states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience.

A drawing of Ibn Sina (Avicenna) from 1271
Thomas Hobbes
Bishop George Berkeley
David Hume's empiricism led to numerous philosophical schools.
Charles Sanders Peirce
William James

It is a fundamental part of the scientific method that all hypotheses and theories must be tested against observations of the natural world rather than resting solely on a priori reasoning, intuition, or revelation.

Inductive reasoning

Method of reasoning in which a body of observations is considered to derive a general principle.

Argument terminology

Questions regarding the justification and form of enumerative inductions have been central in philosophy of science, as enumerative induction has a pivotal role in the traditional model of the scientific method.

Philosophy of science

Branch of philosophy concerned with the foundations, methods, and implications of science.

Karl Popper in the 1980s
The expectations chickens might form about farmer behavior illustrate the "problem of induction."
Seen through a telescope, the Einstein cross seems to provide evidence for five different objects, but this observation is theory-laden. If we assume the theory of general relativity, the image only provides evidence for two objects.
Francis Bacon's statue at Gray's Inn, South Square, London
For Kuhn, the addition of epicycles in Ptolemaic astronomy was "normal science" within a paradigm, whereas the Copernican revolution was a paradigm shift.
Jeremiah Horrocks makes the first observation of the transit of Venus in 1639, as imagined by the artist W. R. Lavender in 1903
Paul Karl Feyerabend
Hegel with his Berlin students
Sketch by Franz Kugler
Peter Godfrey-Smith was awarded the Lakatos Award for his 2009 book Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection, which discusses the philosophical foundations of the theory of evolution.
A fragment of the Hippocratic Oath from the third century.
Wilhelm Wundt (seated) with colleagues in his psychological laboratory, the first of its kind.

A vocal minority of philosophers, and Paul Feyerabend in particular, argue that there is no such thing as the "scientific method", so all approaches to science should be allowed, including explicitly supernatural ones.

Scientific modelling

Scientific activity, the aim of which is to make a particular part or feature of the world easier to understand, define, quantify, visualize, or simulate by referencing it to existing and usually commonly accepted knowledge.

Example scientific modelling. A schematic of chemical and transport processes related to atmospheric composition.
Example of the integrated use of Modelling and Simulation in Defence life cycle management. The modelling and simulation in this image is represented in the center of the image with the three containers.
Flowchart Describing One Style of Model-based Learning

There is a growing collection of methods, techniques and meta-theory about all kinds of specialized scientific modelling.


Proposed explanation for a phenomenon.

The hypothesis of Andreas Cellarius, showing the planetary motions in eccentric and epicyclical orbits.

For a hypothesis to be a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method requires that one can test it.