Michael Shermer

For the purpose of outlining a methodology for the rational skeptic to apply to questionable claims, the following four step process may represent, on the simplest of levels, something that might be called the “scientific method”:
Observation: Gathering data through the senses or sensory enhancing technologies.
Induction: Drawing general conclusions from the data. Forming hypothesis.
Deduction: Making specific predictions from the general conclusions.
Verification: Checking the predictions against further observations.

Science, of course, is not this rigid; and no scientist consciously goes through such “steps.” The process is a constantly interactive one between making observations, drawing conclusions, making predictions, and checking them against further evidence. This process constitutes the core of what philosophers of science call the hypothetico-deductive method.
Through the scientific method we may form the following generalizations:
Hypothesis: A testable statement to account for a set of observations.
Theory: A well-supported testable statement to account for a set of observations.
Fact: Data or conclusions confirmed to such an extent it would be reasonable to offer temporary agreement.

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