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The Scientific Method in the Real Life

It goes without saying that the scientific method plays a highly essential role in the design and performance of experiments. In general, the scientific method may be defined as a series of specific processes that investigators may use in order to gather impartial, systematic, and well-founded knowledge and answer particular questions concerning the natural world (Wolf, 2018). It generally involves observations, the formulation of questions, hypotheses, experiment, data analysis, and conclusion. The method’s significance is determined by its ability to minimize experimental bias and errors to increase the accuracy and reliability of results. Although every scientific experiment may be regarded as the application of the scientific method, it is frequently used by non-scientists on an everyday basis as well.

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Traditionally, the scientific method includes six steps – observation, question, hypothesis, experiment, results, and conclusion (Kuforiji & Kuforiji, 2016).

Observation is regarded as a primary process that is highly essential for the making of hypotheses and experiments in the future. A specific sort of phenomenon that occurs in the world should be observed by an individual who questions its occurrence and wants to receive answers. For any scientific project, observation is highly essential as it forms the main idea of the work.

When observation is completed, the next step of the scientific method requires the formulation of a specific question based on a previous process. For instance: Why is this event occurring? Why does it happen exactly this way? This question should address the outcomes of an experiment in order to accomplish it or make a discovery. Asking questions frequently happens simultaneously with observation as a confusing occurrence of any phenomenon that directly causes questions concerning its reasons.

The hypothesis may be regarded as a key component and the most essential step of the scientific process. It is a specific idea suggested as an answer to a previously posed question and a suitable explanation for a particular natural event, experience, or condition that should be tested through an experiment (Trefil & Hazen, 2016). The hypothesis should state the experiment’s purpose, variables, and predicted outcome.

In turn, the experiment is designed and conducted to test and either support or falsify the hypothesis. For the development of an accurate conclusion, a successful experiment requires the planning of its procedure with the identification of dependent and independent variables and the connection between them.

In the framework of the scientific method, results report the outcomes of the experiment. They traditionally include all observations and data that is received from the process of the experiment.

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Finally, the scientific method includes the conclusion that implies the analysis of all results of the experiment to support or reject the hypothesis.

Concerning the situation with Buddy, the following facts may be highlighted:

  • Buddy will stay without its owner for a few weeks;
  • The dog was accidentally left without its bag;
  • Buddy’s owner cannot be contacted, and there is no access to her house;
  • The dog is new, and that is why no one knows its routine;
  • The salesperson from the local pet store helped to choose supplies and food for the dog;
  • A bag of salmon and potato dry dog food, a dog bed, and a few toys were bought for Buddy;
  • Food for the dog was put in a bowl that was used to store lemons and oranges;
  • Buddy refused to eat.

There is a testable hypothesis based on received data that may explain why Buddy refuses to eat: Buddy is currently not eating because I did not buy the type of dog food that it prefers.

This hypothesis was developed due to the following evidence:

  • I did not ask Buddy’s owner any questions about the dog’s diet;
  • I bought a bag of salmon and potato dry dog food according to the advice of the salesperson who is not aware of the dog’s routine as well.

However, there may be another testable hypothesis based on received data that may explain why Buddy refuses to eat: Buddy is currently not eating because it may miss the voice of its owner while it eats.

This hypothesis was developed due to the following evidence:

  • Buddy belongs to my friend and lived with her for a certain period of time before her trip.
  • An experiment will consist of providing the dog with another type of dry food with different tastes. If Buddy eats, it will mean that its initial rejection to eat was connected with an inappropriate food type.
  • For this experiment, I will buy several types of dry dog food as the dog probably does not like its taste – chicken dry dog food, beef dry dog food, and rabbit dry dog food. I will offer all types to the dog to observe its reaction.

In this experiment, different types of dog food may be defined as independent variables, while the dog’s reactions to food and its eating or refusal are dependent variables. Moreover, in order to test the hypothesis that Buddy does not eat due to an inappropriate food type, other things should remain constant. That is why I should give food in the same plastic bowl, at the same time of the day, and by myself to be sure that the dog’s behavior is not connected with the bowl’s probable smell, a different routine, and my personality, voice, or smell. If Buddy eats another type of dry dog food with another taste, my hypothesis is supported, however, if it rejects all types of dog food, my hypothesis is unsustainable.

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During the experiment, the initial hypothesis may be discovered unsuitable and Buddy will refuse to eat all types of dry dog food. In this case, the induction of a new testable hypothesis should be made within the cyclic framework of the scientific method. The new hypothesis should be tested and verified through systematic observation. The cyclic application of the method should be repeated with various hypotheses until a suitable hypothesis will be proven by experiments.

That is why I may test another hypothesis – Buddy is currently not eating because it may miss the voice of its owner while it eats – by playing a recording of its owner’s voice while it eats. If Buddy starts to eat, a new hypothesis will be proven. If it is shown to be unsuitable as well, I may test one more hypothesis – Buddy does not eat because it does not like the smell of a plastic bowl – by changing this bowl.

If I have a chance to talk with my friend, I will definitely ask her the following questions in order to support or disprove my hypothesis:

  • What kind of food does Buddy like?

This question may be regarded as the most essential one. If my friend answers that her dog has a specific diet or prefers a particular type of dog food, her response will definitely support my hypothesis concerning the connection of the dog’s behavior with inappropriate food. However, if Buddy is not fastidious about its food, there may be another reason for its rejection to eat.

  • What is its reaction to the smell of oranges and lemons?

This question will help to understand if the dog’s behavior is connected with a plastic bowl that was used to store oranges and lemons. The smell of citruses may be unpleasant for a dog and it will not eat from this bowl.

  • When does Buddy usually eat?

The dog may have a particular routine and is not hungry when I try to feed it.

My neighbor suggests that Buddy refuses to eat due to its emotions related to its owner. It feels that its owner may be unlucky during her trip. This hypothesis cannot be tested as the ability of dogs to feel particular future events is not scientifically proved. In addition, we cannot test whether Buddy has emotions, such as fear or worry connected with its owner. According to Kujala (2017), “dogs have many degrees of emotion, but the full extent of dog emotions remains unknown” (p. 1).

Works cited

Kuforiji, J. O., & Kuforiji, P. O. (2016). Scientific method of research in social and human sciences: The practical steps. National Social Science Journal, 49(1), 17-23.

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Kujala, M. V. (2017). Canine emotions as seen through human social cognition. Animal Sentience, 14(1), 1-34.

Trefil, J., & Hazen, R. M. (2016). The sciences: An integrated approach (8th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Wolf, A. (2018). Essentials of scientific method. New York, NY: Routledge.

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