A Skeptic’s Guide to The Scientific Method

1 July, 2011
This article first appeared as a Vic Skeptics discussion pamphlet. After our recent experiences with Power Balance, Optiderma Skin products, Negative Ion Balance  Jewellery and SensaSlim, it seemed like a timely moment to bring The Scientific Method  front-and-centre. This procedure has been standard now for about two hundred years. That’s why it’s appropriate to have a jaundiced view of anyone claiming remarkable scientific breakthroughs which are not supported by published data. The full range of our discussion pamphlets can be downloaded here:  http://www.skeptics.com.au/resources/educational/  or by clicking on the “Useful Info” link at the top of this page.

“Science is best defined as a careful, disciplined, logical search for knowledge about any and all aspects of the universe, obtained by examination of the best available evidence and always subject to correction and improvement upon discovery of better evidence. What’s left is magic.

And it doesn’t work.”

– James Randi

The term “Scientific Method” is used to describe the way scientific research is designed, performed and reviewed. Good science depends on rigour – strict and unfailing adherence to basic principles.

In simple terms, as a scientist,  you would:

1. Make some observation about something that is going on in the universe. Read the rest of this entry »

Religion and Science: a View

26 November, 2010

Earlier this year Terry Kelly was  interviewed by the RoyalAuto . It was a great opportunity to get the skeptical message out to the wider community.  However, with such a large readership the article was bound to have some detractors.

One letter took Terry to task for his views on religion and science, in particular the statement:

But really, science and faith are contradictory.

With due respect to the author of that letter, we’re not going to reproduce it.

We thought Terry’s response was worth posting.

President, Terry Kelly

Dear (RoyalAuto Reader),

Thank you for taking the time to write and I am pleased you read the article in RoyalAuto. While there were some hostile letters published afterwards, and a supportive one, I have to say that we have had a lot of formal and informal positive response. Several people I’ve spoken to expressed surprise that the article could be considered controversial at all. You may be alarmed to learn that a hell of a lot of people think like I do.

To address some of your points :  I know a lot of Scientists had/have religious and other superstitious beliefs. I think Newton believed Read the rest of this entry »

Concern Over Science in the National Curriculum

7 March, 2010

The National Curriculum statement was released on Monday 1st March 2010. A number of commentators have made claims and suggestions. Here are a few of my thoughts based on the experience of over 30 years teaching including a strong role in science education. Firstly, I would like to make a couple of points based on the following extract from the ‘Cross Curriculum Dimensions’.

Curriculum content that relates to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and contexts is represented implicitly in the content descriptions, and explicitly in the content elaborations. Specific knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is incorporated where it relates to science and relevant phenomena,

Read the rest of this entry »