Chapter 1 A Quick Guide to Scientific Rigour

“Meanwhile our eager-beaver researcher, undismayed by logic-of-science considerations and relying blissfully on the “exactitude” of modern statistical hypothesis-testing, has produced a long publication list and been promoted to a full professorship. In terms of his contribution to the enduring body of psychological knowledge, he has done hardly anything.”

—Paul Meehl (1967, p. 114)

Before we can begin our introduction to the wonderful world of Complex Adaptive Systems and Complex Networks, we briefly discuss the philosophy of science and perspective on the goal of scientific inquiry that is used throughout this book. This will allow us to highlight some differences between the Complex Systems Approach (CSA) we propose for the scientific study of human nature and the perspective (implicitly) used in most disciplines of the social and life sciences, we will call the Machine Metaphor Approach (MMA), Cognitivism, or, Computationalism.

Use of the scientific method is what separates scientific, from non-scientific claims about the nature of reality. It consists of all philosophical, theoretical, and empirical tools that can be used to systematically evaluate the veracity of such explanatory claims. The repeated application of the scientific method, to study scientific questions, promises to generate valid (accurate) inferences and reliable (precise) facts about a certain explanatory domain. It does not guarantee that any kind of absolute ‘truth’ will be discovered.

The ‘scientific method song’ discusses the most important phases of the empirical cycle. Be aware that there is also a theoretical cycle and a diagnotsic cycle.

Scientific Method

One factor affecting the perceived veracity of scientific inferences, is the quality of the body of scientific knowledge from which the inferences were deduced, induced or abducted. For example, when a crisis of confidence about the trustworthiness of facts in the scientific record generated by some sub disciplines of psychological science was suggested (Pashler, Coburn, & Harris, 2012), the immediate consequence was that the veracity of all claims by psychological science was called into question.