Biological Problem, Hypothesis, Deductions and Experiments

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Topic Science
Subject Earth Science
Quiz General Knowledge
Last modified November 13, 2010

Biological Problem, Hypothesis, Deductions and Experiments

Like other sciences, in biology new things are being discovered and long-held theories are being modified or replaced with better ones as more data/knowledge is accumulated. This happens when biologist recognize some biological problems and go for their solution. In solving a biological problem, biologists conclude following steps:

  • Recognition of biological problem
  • Observation
  • Hypothesis formulation
  • Deduction
  • Experimentation
  • Summarization of results ( create tables and graphics etc. )
  • Reporting the results

 The details of these steps are as under

1.   Recognition of the Biological Problem  

Biologists go for adopting biological method when they encounter some biological problem. A biological problem is a query about life that is either asked by some one or comes in biologist's mind himself

2.   Observations

As the first step is solving a biological problem, the biologist recalls his/her previous observations or makes new ones. Observations are made with five sense of vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Observations may be both qualitative or quantitative. Quantitative observations are considered as more accurate than qualitative ones because the former are invariable and measurable and can be recorded in terms of numbers Examples of qualitative and quantitative analysis are given below:-

Qualitative Observations

  • The freezing point of water is colder than the boiling point.
  • A liter of water is heavier than a liter of ethanol.  

Quantitative Observations

  • The freezing point of water is 0 degree Celsius and boiling point is 100 degree celsius.
  • A Liter of water weighs 1000 grams and a liter of ethanol weighs 789 grams. 

Observations also include reading and studying what others have done in the past because scientific knowledge is ever-growing.

3.   Construction ( Formulation ) of Hypothesis

Observations don't become scientific observations until they are organized and related to a question. Biologist organizes his/her and others' observations into data form and and constructs a statement that may prove to be the answer of the biological problem under study. This tentative explanation of the observations is called a hypothesis. It may be defined as a proposition that might be true. A hypotheses should have the following characteristics.

  • It should be a general statement. 
  • It should be tentative idea.
  • It should agree with available observations.
  • It should be kept as simple as possible.
  • It should be testable and potentially falsified. In other words, there should be a way to show the hypothesis is false; a way to disprove the hypothesis.

A great deal of careful and creative thinking is necessary for the construction of a hypothesis. Biologist use reasoning to formulate a hypothesis. Reasoning may be of two types.

(i)   In inductive reasoning specific observations are used to draw general hypothesis. For example

       I observed cells in x, y and z organisms, therefore al organisms have cells.

(ii)  Deducted reasoning flows from general to specific. From general observations, a biologist constructs specific hypothesis. For example.

       If all organisms have cells and humans are organisms then human should have cells.

4.   Deduction

Next, the biologist draws deductions from the hypotheses. Deductions are the logical consequences of the hypotheses. Deductions are also drawn by using inductive and deductive reasoning.

Generally, in the biological method, if a particular hypothesis is true then one should expect ( deduction ) a certain result. This involves the use of "if-then" logic.

5.   Experimentation

As the next, but most basic step of biological method biologist performs experiments to see if the hypotheses are true. The deductions, which are drawn from hypotheses, are subjected to rigorous testing. Through this stage biologist learns which hypotheses are actually true from amount the many that might be true. If the expected results are obtained from the tests on a hypothesis, it supports (but does not prove) the hypothesis.

 An experiment evaluates alternative hypothesis. A successful experiment is that which demonstrates one or more alternative hypothesis as incorrect (Inconsistent with experimental or observational results). The incorrect hypotheses are rejected and those which prove consistent with experimental results are accepted. An accepted hypothesis needs to be valid and useful. It makes further predictions that provide an important way to further test its validity.  

6.   Summarization of results

The Biologists gather actual, quantitative data from the experiments. Data for each of the groups are then averaged and compared statistically. To draw conclusions , the biologists also uses statistical analysis.

7.   Reporting the results

Biologists publish their findings  in scientific journals and books, in talks at national and international meetings and in seminars at colleges and universities. Publishing of results is an essential part of the scientific method. It allows other people to verify the results or apply the knowledge to solve other problems.