Scientific method
Scientific method
The scientific method is a systematic approach to problem solving. It works in everyday life (where publishing and peer review are unnecessary). Multiple rounds of hypothesis development may be necessary. Many people have the experience of waking up in the morning with the solution (new hypothesis) to a problem. The method works best where people are creative and sufficiently open minded to consider many hypotheses. There's no guarantee that the solution to a problem is the best or only solution. Solutions to problems should improve with time.
Identify problem
Collect data
Develop hypotheses
Test hypotheses
Draw conclusion
Write up experiments and conclusions
Undergo peer review
Potential problems at all stages
Is the problem sufficiently well defined?
Is there enough relevant data?
Can useful hypotheses be developed?
Can appropriate tests be devised?
Complex problems may need to be broken into parts (reductionism)
There may be insufficient data to create useful hypotheses
Distinguishing relevant from irrelevant data may be tricky
Creating good hyptheses may require specialized knowledge or insight
Potential insoluble problems
Origin of life
Nature of consciousness
Assembling a jigsaw puzzle is a good example of problem solving. Solutions however aren't difficult since strategies are well known and since one can be confident that they will work. In the real world strategies may be obscure and solutions aren't guaranteed. Problem solving in technical areas generally requires specialized knowledge.