The Zetetic method is a system of scientific inquiry. The word is derived from the Greek verb ζητέω (zeteo), which means "I seek; I examine; I strive for".
The zetetic method differs from the usual scientific method in that in using it, one bases conclusions on experimentation and observation rather than on an initial theory that is to be proved or disproved. A scientist following the zetetic method formulates the question then immediately sets to work making observations and performing experiments to answer that question, rather than speculating on what the answer might be before testing it out.
Some feel this is a more reasonable method than the normal scientific method because it removes any preconceived notions and biases the early formation of a hypothesis might cause, and leaves the conclusion up entirely to what is observed.
There is no one scientific method, but in general it is usually written as a number of steps:
- Come up with a question about the world. All scientific work begins with having a question to ask. Sometimes just coming up with the right question is the hardest part for a scientist. The question should be answerable by means of an experiment.
- Design an experiment. An experiment should be able to allow the scientist to draw a possible answer to the question, called a hypothesis; it may not tell him or her if the hypothesis is right.
- Experiment and collect the data. Here the scientist tries to run the experiment they have designed before. Sometimes the scientist gets new ideas as the experiment is going on. Sometimes it is difficult to know when an experiment is finally over. Sometimes experimenting will be very difficult. Some scientists spend most of their lives learning how to do good experiments.
- Draw conclusions from the experiment. Sometimes results are not easy to understand. Sometimes the experiments themselves open up new questions. Sometimes results from an experiment can mean many different things. All of these need to be thought about carefully.
- Formulate a hypothesis — one possible answer to the question. A hypothesis in science is a word meaning "An educated guess about how something works". It should be possible to be prove it right or wrong. For example, a statement like "Blue is a better color than green" is not a scientific hypothesis. It cannot be proved right or wrong. "More people like the color blue than green" could be a scientific hypothesis, though, because one could ask many people whether they like blue or green more and come up with an answer one way or the other.
- Communicate them to others. A key element of science is sharing the results of experiments, so that other scientists can then use the knowledge themselves and all of science can benefit. Usually scientists do not trust a new claim unless other scientists have looked it over first to make sure it sounds like real science. This is called peer review ("peer" here means "other scientists"). Other scientists should follow the scientific method for their attempt to repeat the experiment, but using your hypothesis instead of fomulating their own from research.