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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Who invented the scientific method?

The question of who invented the scientific method is extremely difficult to answer, simply because it is difficult to pin down exactly where it started.

by Martyn Shuttleworth (2009)

The scientific method evolved over time, with some of history’s greatest and most influential minds adding to and refining the process.
Whilst many point to Aristotle and the Greek philosophers as the prime movers behind the development of the scientific method, this is too much of a leap.

Whilst the Greeks were the first Western civilization to adopt observation and measurement as part of learning about the world, there was not enough structure to call it the scientific method.

It is fair to say that Aristotle was the founder of empirical science, but the development of a scientific process resembling the modern method was developed by Muslim scholars, during the Golden age of Islam, and refined by the enlightenment scientist-philosophers.

Muslim scholars, between the 10th and 14th centuries, were the prime movers behind the development of the scientific method.

They were the first to use experiment and observation as the basis of science, and many historians regard science as starting during this period.

Amongst the array of great scholars, al-Haytham is regarded as the architect of the scientific method. His scientific method involved the following stages:

1.Observation of the natural world

2.Stating a definite problem

3.Formulating a robust hypothesis

4.Test the hypothesis through experimentation

5.Assess and analyze the results

6.Interpret the data and draw conclusions

7.Publish the findings

These steps are very similar to the modern scientific method and they became the basis of Western science during the Renaissance.

Al-Haytham even insisted upon repeatability and the replication of results, and other scholars added ideas such as peer review and made great leaps in understanding the natural world.

The question of who invented the scientific method shifts to Europe as the Renaissance began and the wisdom of the Greeks and Arabs helped Europe out of the Dark Ages.

It is certainly true that the scientific method finally came to Europe and many Christian scientists added to the process. But to claim that Christians developed it is simply not accurate.

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