Scientific Method: Explaining Science To A 10-Year-Old Kid

Saurav Poudel
4 min readJul 15, 2021

Scientific Method, Hypothesis, Falsification, and why one should not trust Science!

Photo by MART PRODUCTION from Pexels

Imagine you go to a village in Norway and you see a strange phenomenon. You see Sun rising at midnight! Then you see the same thing the following day, the day after that, and back-to-back for a week. Based on your “observations”, you come to a generalized conclusion that the Sun rises at the midnight in that particular village.

The process of making a generalized conclusion based on observations is known as Inductive Reasoning, which we also talked about in our story on Knowledge. Induction feels like a reasonable approach too, as that is what we humans do in most of our lives with reasonable success. But the problem with induction is that we can never be certain about our claim. Maybe the Sun won’t rise on the 100th day, or 1000th day or some 30303rd day. As you might guess by now, it’s a never-ending testing process; and thus coming to a certain conclusion through induction is not possible.

One important philosopher, Karl Popper, came up with an idea to circumvent this problem. His idea was to reverse the approach, that is, first make a claim, and then test the claim with observations. I know it sounds a bit strange at first, so let me explain the idea in detail.

In our example, even 1000 (meaning countless) consistent observations won’t help us know if a statement is true with certainty. But it will take just one conflicting observation — let’s say some 1001st day when the Sun does not pop up — to reject our statement as false with certainty.

So, the idea of Karl Popper is to first make a statement and then test the statement with observations with a motive of falsifying the statement. If we can not falsify the statement despite rigorous observation and testing, we accept that statement as the provisional truth for the time being.

But remember, we have not proved that our statement is true, we have just proved that our statement is not false up to the moment.

The statement that we make at the beginning — which could be both true or false — is known as Hypothesis. If you remember from our story on Knowledge, this line of reasoning is Deductive Reasoning, where we go from broad…

Saurav Poudel

Books. Travel. Data. Stories. Experience above everything else.