Alexander Fleming



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Scientific method is one of those ways of knowing which has been in limelight for centuries and still seems to classify itself as important. Science is mainly driven by logic and reasoning and hence, in the scientific method, logic and reasoning is combined and reasoned with sense perception to form a superior way of knowing which seems to provide more certainty than other ways of knowing. However, the certainty arrived at through scientific methods has been evaluated time and again to explore its limitations.

Evidence of acceptance and accuracy of the scientific methods is seen in many discoveries like the Newton’s laws of gravity, discovery of pharmaceutical drugs and investigating properties of various substances around us. However, the scientific method is also challenged by other methods of knowing which seem to provide equally accurate and reasonable data but without using the scientific method, for example, the theory of evolution was built up on observation and the science of homeopathy was built on by ancient manuscripts.

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Deciding whether the scientific method is the best way of knowing can be challenging, the method can prove itself to be perfectly accurate in some cases but may not be able to explain others. The scientific method involves a set of steps which are used to investigate claims and phenomenon in the world. The steps mainly include; 1 aim; 2 hypothesis; 3 method; 4 results; 5 conclusions and 6 evaluation. As a high school science student, the scientific method works as the fundamental rule for investigating any scientific claims or properties of the common world around us.

One such example can be taken from my Physics class where we investigated the properties of light as it passed through different mediums. It is a well-known fact that light behaves differently in different mediums, even for someone not from the scientific world who has seen objects through water can tell there is something funny happening with light as it passes through it. Hence, as science students we investigate this common property using scientific method.

As we proceeded with our experiment of observing how the light ray behaved at different angles, our hypothesis that the light rays “bend” when they enter a different medium though air seemed to be proved right. In addition, as the experiment was repeated a pattern or similarity in the results could be seen, hence, the precision was higher. This not only proves that scientific methods provide an easy and clear pathway but also allows us to repeat the procedure with the same accuracy.

When evaluated with the truth tests, the results have a higher chance of passing as the results could be repeated several times hence, increasing consistency. Another example of where scientific method plays and important role is in the discovery of drugs and pharmaceutical products to cure diseases. Since the outcome and effect of the product should be precise, the scientists need to have a solid hypothesis and carry out many experiments to arrive at the desired outcome.

Moreover, arriving at the desired result once would not make much of a difference, in the pharmaceutical industry, the drugs are produced over and over again and hence it requires a certain “recipe” for the drug to provide consistency and also work at an efficient balance of economy, this is arrived at by investigating various conditions and methods designed on the basis of the fundamental scientific method.

Even though the discovery of Penicillin in 1928 by Alexander Fleming was serendipitous (reference), the importance of the drug was soon in the limelight and the demand for the drug increased, hence, this was when the scientific method came in handy to help provide a method for mass production of Penicillin. (Reference) In contrast to the two examples provided above, the science of homeopathy defies the certainty of scientific method. Homeopathy is method of curing diseases using very diluted versions of the medicines.

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