The scientific method is obsolete.
This is a bold statement in a room filled with scientists who have spent the better portion of their lives striving for the gold standard of science set forth by 3rd grade science fair projects:
- Observe the world.
- Ask a question.
- Make a hypothesis.
- Devise a testable experiment with one variable and everything else controlled.
- Compile the data and analyze the results.
- Revise the experiment or hypothesis and repeat as necessary until they match.
- Form a conclusion.
- Justify how your manageable (relatively simple) model makes predictions on a much wider scale.
But the predominating focus on producing data to answer a question, which up until now has served our scientific community faithfully, may no longer be the best method for useful discovery, according to Stanford scientist Atul Butte, MD, PhD. We are amidst a data revolution that necessitates that good science be best performed backwards; instead of questions demanding data, we now have data demanding questions.
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