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Unit 1. Part (B). The Method of Des Cartes

[A picture of Des Cartes]

When working on scientific experiments, there is a special technique used known as the Scientific Method. The first method was designed by Rene Descartes and includes four fundamental principles.

The first was never to accept anything for true which I did not clearly know to be such; that is to say, carefully to avoid precipitancy and prejudice, and to comprise nothing more in my judgement than what was presented to my mind so clearly and distinctly as to exclude all ground of doubt.

The second, to divide each of the difficulties under examination into as many parts as possible, and as might be necessary for its adequate solution.

The third, to conduct my thoughts in such order that, by commencing with objects the simplest and easiest to know, I might ascend by little and little, and, as it were, step by step, to the knowledge of the more complex; assigning in thought a certain order even to those objects which in their own nature do not stand in a relation of antecedence and sequence.

And the last, in every case to make enumerations so complete, and reviews so general, that I might be assured that nothing was omitted. The whole book, A Discourse on Method is at Literature site on the web.

When designing your experiments, try to keep Des Cartes ideas in mind. 1. You do not have to believe anything is true until you have proven it to yourself.

2. Record what you find out so other people can follow your work later.

3. Divide your work into small parts.

4. Your notebook should record the information that you gather.

If you have an idea and want to test it with an experiment, describe your idea and what you intend to do in the notebook. Be sure to record what happens for both success and failure in experiments. Sometimes the failures can lead to new ideas.

Revised: 1 May 2016
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