Relationships in Science

A Nurturing Potential report


"A relationship in science is a 'shorthand' way of describing how variations in one part of a system affect other parts. Some relationships are more complicated than others, but we can often reduce complex relationships to sets of simpler relationships."

(Albert Goodman, Deakin University, Australia)

There Are Different Forms of the Scientific Method

It must be understood that not all fields of science arrive at conclusions in the same way. The physical sciences, like physics and chemistry, use experiments to gather numerical data from which relationships are derived, and conclusions are made. The more descriptive sciences, like zoology and anthropology, may use a form of the method that involves gathering of information by visual observation or interviewing. What is common among all sciences, however, is the making of hypothesis to explain observations, the gathering of data, and based on this data, the drawing of conclusions that confirm or deny the original hypothesis. The difference is in what is considered data, and how data is gathered and processed.

Data for a physical scientist is numbers, often plotted on graphs. Graphs can be used to derive equations that can be used for making predictions. Data, for an anthropologist, could be a recorded interview. Interviews can be compared to other related information. Hence the distinction between the exact sciences that use numbers to measure and calculate results, and other sciences that use descriptions and inferences to arrive at results. 

What Makes the Scientific Method Possible?

The existence of "cause and effect relationships" in nature is what makes experimental science possible. Hypothesis can only be verified using the scientific method  if there is a cause and effect relationship between the variables that have been chosen and the system being studied.

What is Experimental Science?

Experimental science is actually the search for cause and effect relationships in nature. A hypothesis is a best guess at what this cause and effect relationship is.  Conclusions permit the prediction of the result of future cause and effect relationships.  Technology is the area that applies the findings of the sciences to produce machines, or fulfil functions