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2.1.2: Scientific Method
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Steps of the Scientific Method
- Science does not "prove" anything. Hypotheses are falsified/supported or not falsified/supported. For a hypothesis to be accepted as a theory, which is a generally accepted explanation of specific phenomena, it undergoes rigorous testing (Larsen 2008: 16). It can take decades for a hypothesis to become a theory.
- While we discuss various topics in biological anthropology that each piece of information was once a hypothesis that was tested and supported by the data. Contradictory supported-hypotheses are possible; some refer to this as equifinality. This just means that the data collected supports two (or more) hypotheses -- in most cases, there is not sufficient data available to support one more than the other (especially when we get to the information within human evolution). Hopefully, in these cases, one day we'll have enough evidence to overwhelmingly support one particular hypothesis, but at the present that's not possible. So, for the moment we have to open our minds to accept two potential conclusions.
- Fancher LJ. 2000. The Great “SM.” < www.cod.edu/people/faculty/fancher/scimeth.htm>. Accessed May 7, 2015.
- Jurmain R, Kilgore L, Trevathan W. Essentials of physical anthropology, 4th edition. Belmont (CA): Wadsworth, Cengage Learning; 2013. 437 p.
- Kaziek CJ, Pearson D. 2014. Ask a biologist: using the scientific method to solve mysteries. < http://askabiologist.asu.edu/explore/scientific-method>. Accessed May 7, 2015.
- Larsen CS. Our origins: discovering physical anthropology. New York (NY): W.W Norton & Company, Inc.; 2008. 430 p.