The Scientific Method: Reflections from a Practitioner

ISBN : 9780198825623

Massimiliano Di Ventra
128 Pages
129 x 196 mm
Pub date
Aug 2018
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This book discusses and explains in a clear, concise, and colloquial style the foundational concepts that determine how science proceeds in investigating the natural world, and the knowledge it is able to provide. It is accessible to first-year college students, interested laymen, and even high-school students. It uses simple facts to guide the reader through difficult concepts such as material reality, hypotheses, theory, and the logical foundations of science. It also warns the reader of the errors that are made if the scientific method is used in contexts that are not scientific, leading to controversial statements that should have no place in science. The book is written by a scientist, hence it appeals to our common sense and practical bent, rather than aspiring to reach abstract philosophical conclusions.


1 Science without Philosophy?
2 Material World and Objective Reality
3 First Principles and Logic
4 Natural Phenomena and the Primacy of Experiment
5 Observation and Experimentation
6 The Role of Human Faith in Science
7 Approximate and Limited Description of Natural Phenomena
8 Hypothesis
9 Theory
10 Competing Theories
11 Can One Theory be Derived from Another?
12 Verifying or Falsifying? And What?
13 Don't be a Masochist!
14 Consensus in Science? What is That?
15 Flow Chart of the Scientific Method
16 The What and Why Questions
17 Scientism: Abusing the Scientific Method
18 Final Thoughts
Further Readings
About the Author

About the author: 

Massimiliano Di Ventra is Professor of Physics at the University of California, San Diego. His research interests are in the theory of electronic and transport properties of nanoscale systems, non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, DNA sequencing/polymer dynamics in nanopores, and memory effects in nanostructures for applications in unconventional computing and biophysics. He has been invited to deliver more than 270 talks worldwide on these topics.

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