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The Scientific Method: Reflections from a Practitioner

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This book looks at how science investigates the natural world around us. It is an examination of the scientific method, the foundation of science, and basis on which our scientific knowledge is built on. Written in a clear, concise, and colloquial style, the book addresses all concepts pertaining to the scientific method. It includes discussions on objective reality, hypotheses and theory, and the fundamental and inalienable role of experimental evidence in scientific knowledge.

This collection of personal reflections on the scientific methodology shows the observations and daily uses of an experienced practitioner. Massimiliano Di Ventra also examines the limits of science and the errors we make when abusing its method in contexts that are not scientific, for example, in policymaking. By reflecting on the general method, the reader can critically sort through other types of scientific claims, and judge their ability to apply it in study and in practice.

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Di Ventra Massimiliano
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Massimiliano Di Ventra is Professor of Physics at the University of California, San Diego. His research interests are in the theory of electronic and transport properties of nanoscale systems, non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, DNA sequencing/polymer dynamics in nanopores, and memory effects in nanostructures for applications in unconventional computing and biophysics. He has been invited to deliver more than 270 talks worldwide on these topics.

1: Science without Philosophy?

2: Material World and Objective Reality

3: First Principles and Logic

4: Natural Phenomena and the Primacy of Experiment

5: Observation and Experimentation

6: The Role of Human Faith in Science

7: Approximate and Limited Description of Natural Phenomena

8: Hypothesis

9: Theory

10: Competing Theories

11: Can One Theory be "Derived" from Another?

12: Verifying or Falsifying? And What?

13: Don't be a Masochist!

14: "Consensus" in Science? What is That?

15: Flow Chart of the Scientific Method

16: The "What" and "Why" Questions

17: "Scientism": Abusing the Scientific Method

18: Final Thoughts

Further Readings

About the Author