Chapter 11


11.1 Scientific Method

The description of uncertainty, in the numerical form of probability, has an important role to play in science, so it is to this usage that we now turn. Before doing so, a few words must be said about the nature of science, because until these are understood, the role of uncertainty in science may not be properly appreciated.

The central idea in our understanding of science, and one that affects our whole attitude to the subject, is that

The unity of all science consists alone in its method, not in its material.

Science is a way of observing, thinking about, and acting in the world you live in. It is a tool for you to use in order that you may enjoy a better life. It is a way of systematizing your knowledge. Most people, including some scientists, think that science is a subject that embraces topics like chemistry, physics, biology but perhaps not sociology or education; some would have doubts concerning fringe sciences like psychology, and all would exclude what is ordinarily subsumed under the term “arts”. This view is wrong, for science is a method, admittedly a method that has been most successful in those fields that we normally think of as scientific and less so in the arts, but it has the potentiality to be employed everywhere. Like any tool, it varies in its usefulness, just as a spade is good in the garden but less effective in replacing a light bulb. The topic of this chapter is properly called the scientific method, rather ...

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