What is Scientific Thinking? Examples & their Characteristics

We explain what scientific thinking is and how it came about. In addition, characteristics and examples of scientific thinking.

What is scientific thinking?

Scientific thinking is a mode of reasoning inaugurated by the emergence of modern sciences. It is based on skepticism, observation, and experimentation, that is, on the demonstrable verification of the interpretations we make of the world and the laws that govern it.

Scientific thinking is a type of knowledge seeking involving intentional information seeking, including asking questions, testing hypotheses, making observations, recognizing patterns, and making inferences (Kuhn, 2002; Morris et al., 2012).

Scientific thinking is a type of thinking outside the methods and reasoning of religion, magic, and medieval scholasticism. On the contrary, it embraces the critical and rationalist thinking of Renaissance philosophers.

Modernity was especially manifested in the Scientific Method, formally proposed by the philosopher and writer Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) in his work De dignitate et augmentin Scientiarum (“On the dignification and progress of science”). But it is first and foremost, together with its application to the techniques ( technology ), of the contemporary world as we know it.

It has great effectiveness in translating the observable universe into demonstrable, reproducible, and measurable phenomena, with the intention of being independent of individual subjectivities. Thus, it has put within our reach unimaginable methods and tools in times before its emergence and formalization.

Since then, science is making great strides. The changes it causes present ethical debates in society about the responsibility for its consequences.

Origin of scientific thought

The concern to know and understand the universe, that is, the germ of scientific thought, has existed in our species since its inception. That is why there were great practitioners of what in ancient times was known as ” Philosophy “, or “Natural Philosophy” and that is the direct precursor of modern science.

Scientific thought proper appeared after the Renaissance. It was the result of the radical philosophical and cultural change that took place after the end of the Middle Ages and the replacement of religious faith with a human reason as the supreme value of humanity.

Characteristics of scientific thinking

verifiable theory scientific thought
Scientific theories, such as evolution, must be demonstrated with evidence.

Scientific thinking consists of four essential characteristics:

  • Objectivity and rationalityScientific thought must be foreign to the feelings, interests, and opinions of the person who formulates it, given that it tries to obtain conclusions regarding the laws that govern the universe, regardless of the appreciation of human beings.
  • Demonstrability and verifiability. The scientific conclusions must be universal, and for this they must be able to demonstrate empirically, thus being valid throughout the world and can be verified by direct experience (experiments) or by an explanation that cannot be refuted by logical and demonstrable arguments.
  • Systematicity and methodically. Scientific thinking is carried out through orderly, explainable procedures, which step by step form a rational, empirical, and analyzable system in any of its elements. Thus, for example, an experiment must be able to be replicated as many times as necessary and always obtain the same result.
  • Accuracy and communicability. Whenever a scientific conclusion is reached, it must be precise, that is, concrete, specific, and must be understandable and explainable to third parties, that is, fully communicable.

Examples of scientific thinking

scientific thinking physical technology
Even the most basic technologies are the result of scientific thinking.

On the one hand, so-called exact or hard sciences are a manifestation of scientific thinking. So are those with specific applications in technology, such as electricity, computer science, or astronomy, for example.

In addition, examples of scientific thinking are a huge variety of rational, empirical, verifiable, and communicable knowledge. Among them are the laws of physics, the applications of chemistry, and the understanding of anatomy and biochemistry.

We also find scientific thinking in less obvious contexts, such as mathematical and logical reasoning, sociological, psychological, economic, and other social science theories. In all cases, they must comply with the premises and requirements of the scientific method.

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