The rules of science v4.0

The set of rules presented herein has been established as a tool to distinguish what we know from what we do not know for sure – to distinguish science from beliefs.

Rule about well-defined scientific concepts

A scientific concept consists of a well-defined concept having a well-defined capability of prediction within a well-defined context.

concept: any expression of a relationship between two or more measurands

measurand: well-defined property that can be quantified

relationship: a quantified change in measurand A is followed by a quantified change in measurand B

definition: identification of the set of properties that distinguish a measurand or a concept from all others

capability: difference between predictions and measurements

prediction: quantification of a measurand without any foreknowledge about an eventual measurement result

context: a set of those things that have an influence on the predicted value

Comment

The purpose of definitions is to ensure that a concept can be equally understood by different persons. One essential characteristic of a scientific concept is that it must be possible for other persons to replicate and test that concept. Without well-defined concepts, context and capabilities – it will not be possible for others to replicate, test or evaluate a concept.

Rule about logically valid concepts

A scientific concept consists of statements that are logically valid conclusions – deduced from premises that are themselves logically valid conclusions or axioms.

statement: a logical proposition which can be either true or false within the defined context

logically valid: the truth of the premises guarantees the truth of the conclusion – it is impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion nevertheless to be false.

true: a statement which can not be contradicted, within the defined context, by a logically valid statement

false: not true

deduction: logically valid combination of premises into a conclusion by means of mathematics and logic

mathematics: a consistent and logically valid system of symbols and operations on these symbols

axiom: a statement which is self-evidently true

Comment

Whenever it can be shown that a concept has been based on one or more logically invalid conclusions or premises, something must be wrong with the concept – or the presentation of it, judgement of that concept should be suspended until the source of the invalidity has been found and rectified.

To avoid that previous false statements are maintained on false premises, new judgement should encompass all consequences of a rectification.

Rule about measurement within science

A proper measurement report contains:
– Definition of the context
– Definition of the measurands
– Measured values
– International standard units or well-defined non-standard units
– Traceability
– Defined uncertainty and information about how it is deduced

measurement: quantify a measurand by an enumerated multiple of a unit

unit: a well-defined quantity which has one unique value

traceability: an unbroken chain of calibrations to the definition of a unit

calibration: comparison of a measurement with a reference having a known uncertainty

comparison: quantification of the difference between

reference: a reference measurement having an unbroken chain of calibrations to the definition of the unit.

uncertainty: quantified inaccuracy

Comment

The reliability of a measurement is related to the information provided in the measurement report. The information in the measurement report is also crucial for replication. If the measurement report lacks crucial information, the outcome may end up being deemed void or invalid.

All measurements are associated with some uncertainty. The uncertainty of a measurement may be significant for the conclusions of a test. Hence, the uncertainty of the measurements must be quantified. Information about how the uncertainty has been determined must also be readily available.

Rule about validation of scientific concepts

A scientific concept must be tested by comparison of predictions deduced from that concept with measurements.

A concept, which has been verified by a set of tests, may be referred to as validated within the tested range of conditions by identification of these tests.

If predictions differ from measurements, by more than the combined uncertainty of the measurement and the defined capability of the concept, something must be wrong with the concept – or the test of it.

test: an activity which can verify a part of a concept

verify: demonstrate the truth of

wrong: not true

Comment

Even if a concept has been validated, it should be kept in mind that a new test can suddenly show something wrong with a concept – or suddenly, a new concept with better capabilities might be found.

“Hypothesis” is a commonly used term to signify that a statement has not yet been verified or that a concept has not yet been validated.

If a concept has been adjusted to match a particular set of measurements, the output from that concept can no longer be referred to as a prediction of those measurements.

Rule about identified and available data within science

Data and precise information about how that data has been obtained must be identified and readily available.

Whenever data has been disregarded or corrected both the original data, corrected data and precise information about the correction must be readily available.

data: measured or predicted value of a measurand – or a relationship between measurands

precise information: sufficient for replication by independent persons using similar tools.

readily available: available, without further request, by anyone having rights to the referring document

disregarded: removed from a set of data

corrected: a measured or predicted value has been replaced with another value

Comment

All kinds of errors can be made when evaluating or analysing data. To facilitate examination, all relevant and significant data should be made readily available to anyone who might like to verify that the propounded concept is supported by the data or to analyse the data in alternative ways.

Epilogue

A significant effort has been invested in making this work concise and well-defined. If you can think of a way to improve it – tell me about it. If you like it – tell others about it.

This work can be reproduced on the condition that the original source is identified by a link to this page and provided together with the reproduced material.

 

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