A study of the history of the scientific method will reveal that it was not invented by one single person. Rather, its development is best defined as the accumulation of knowledge that led to scientific analysis and understanding.
The Scientific Method among Ancient Civilizations
The first instance of this method being used began with texts indexes. These have been found in many cultures as far back as 2000 BC. The use of empirical methods can be traced back to ancient Egypt. Empirical methods were used by the Egyptians particularly with regards to astronomy and mathematics.
This practice was continued by the ancient Greeks. One of the most important figures in the history of the scientific method was Aristotle. In 320 BC, he compiled a series of texts wherein he classified scientific data into several fields. These included biology, zoology, physics, logic, politics and poetry.
Around 200 BC, a catalogued library was established in Alexandria in Egypt. Another important event occurred in 800 AD when Muslim scientists started conducting controlled experiments, which would become part and parcel of scientific investigation. In 1265 Roger Bacon redefined the scientific method by using observation, hypothesis and experiments.
The Modern Scientific Method Emerges
The late 1590s witnessed the invention of the microscope, which was crucial in the history of the scientific method. In 1600, laboratories began to be established. This was followed in 1620 by the publication of Francis Bacon’s Novum Organum. In the book, Bacon proposed a new system for acquiring and verifying scientific data.
Another important treatise was Rene Descartes’ Discourse on Method. Along with the works of John Stuart Mill, these individuals were responsible for the basic framework of the scientific method.
In 1638, Galileo published Two New Sciences, which aimed to show how the prevailing beliefs at the time were incorrect. The 1650s saw the emergence of the Royal Society of Experts. It was there that experimental evidence came to be regarded as a basis for fact.
Beyond the 1650s
The history of the scientific method in the 1650s was marked by the publication of numerous scientific journals. Using hypothesis and prediction, Isaac Newton was able to formulate his theory of gravity.
In 1877, Charles Peirce stated that induction and deduction could work together when gathering knowledge. He also laid down the basic groundwork for hypothesis and testing. Peirce also helped establish blinded experiments, which would become part of modern psychology.
In 1897, Thomas Chamberlin popularized the idea of multiple theories and hypothesis to help in experimentation. During the 1930s and 40s, placebo trials and computer simulation began taking place.
Advances in instruments and technology have allowed scientists to make robots to help them in their studies. In 2009, the robot scientist Adam was created. It was the first machine capable of analyzing its findings without human assistance. Several more are currently under development.
The history of the scientific method is intertwined with science itself. As new fields are sought, this method will continue to be the means for evaluating the facts.