One of the main foundations in the study of science is the validation of theoretical propositions through experimental data. Theories can then be evaluated to be true or false depending on experimental results. The verification of theoretical prepositions can then help us to predict multiple outcomes in our world. In the direction of trying to understand the universe, man has developed an array of disciplines that do not necessarily follow the experimental approach which is used in contemporary science.
Medieval science is among the most important disciplines that have resulted from man’s effort to understand his universe (Fisher, 2011). Although some of the prepositions and beliefs in medieval science are contrary to common sense and contemporary science, medieval science is still finding a wider acceptance in the general populace.
The inclusion of astrology columns in all major newspaper editions tells a lot about our general beliefs. Perhaps, contemporary science is ignoring “undiscovered” forces that play a crucial role in influencing our lives; thus, forcing man to seek alternative means of understanding mysterious phenomenon (John, 2005).
Among the most common disciplines that have been in application over many years, despite their unscientific approach, include astrology and alchemy.
In a nutshell, astrology is a discipline which revolves on the concept that our behaviors, destinies, and our general life is pre-determined and influenced by forces from celestial bodies. Astrology is a broad discipline that is based on astronomical observations which have been noted over many years (Stefanos, 2011). Life in the ancient world, including medicine, politics and religion was centered on astrological beliefs.
Although astrology has a wide berth of acceptance and application in our modern world, scientists have argued against the use of astrological prepositions as facts. Phenomenons that can be “explained” by astrological prepositions should thus be considered random and accidental.
Like astrology, alchemy is a discipline that is based on prepositions that are contrary to intuition and scientific approaches. Alchemists believe that it is possible to transfer the form of an object to another object through the process of metaphysics.
Because of their existence, objects are considered to posses some form of metaphysical powers that can be moved from one object to another. Among the most important beliefs that are held by modern alchemists is the possession of healing powers by crystals. Some modern healers propose the combined use of crystals and meditation for healing certain ailments (Andrew, 2008).
In the direction of ascertaining the claimed healing power of crystals, I set out to perform an experiment to test the healing notion of crystals. Among the most common approaches that can be employed in the direction of verifying hypotheses is the use of chi-squared experiments.
First, a hypothesis is stated. For the stated hypothesis to be valid, the results of our experiment should conform to the stated hypothesis. Variations from the expected theory are then evaluated. Wide deviations of experimental results from the stated hypothesis indicate that the hypothesis is invalid.
My experiment focused on the theory that when combined with meditation, crystals have supernatural healing powers. The assumed supernatural healing power of crystals was then tested on flies. During the experiment, our laboratory assistant created eight samples of flies with a type of mutation referred to as vestigial.
Vestigial mutation prevents flies from developing wings on emergence from the pupa stage of growth. However, some flies may develop wings despite having the vestigial mutation as a result of naturally occurring processes in their genes. If quartz crystals have healing powers, samples that had been exposed to the crystals and meditation would be expected to contain a large number of flies with normal wings.
During my experiment, I received eight different samples of flies from my laboratory assistant. Four of these samples had been exposed to quartz crystals and meditation. The other four had not been exposed to crystals and meditation. During the experiment, I was not aware of the samples that had been exposed to crystals and meditation.
One vial of four samples was labeled “X” while the other was labeled “Y”. On receiving the samples from my laboratory assistant, I carefully removed flies from each sample while making a count of those that had developed wings. After recording my observations, I did a chi-squared analysis.
I was able to observe a total of five flies that had vestigial wings in sample “X”. Here, a total of 58 flies from a total of 65 flies had normal wings. On the other hand, sample “Y” did not yield any flies with the vestigial condition. Here, a total of 99 flies from a total of 99 had normal wings. The results of the crystal experiment are illustrated below:
My calculated chi-squared value was 8.11. Since there are two observable conditions (normal or vestigial flies), my degree of freedom is one. Having obtained my chi-squared value and my degree of freedom, I referred to the chi-squared distribution table to obtain the probability figure for my experiment.
For this particular experiment, my acceptable range for deviation was 5%. For my calculated chi-squared value, I obtained a probability that lies between 1% and 0.1%. Thus, for this particular experiment that I performed, only 1% of the experimental observations were due to chance. Since my acceptable range of probability was 5%, the crystal hypothesis (that quartz crystals have curative powers when combined with meditation) was shown to be invalid.
The quartz experiment disapproved the hypothesis that quartz crystals have supernatural healing powers. If the hypothesis was true, we would have observed a substantial number of vestigial flies in either sample. According to the calculated chi-squared value, an accuracy of 0.1% was required to verify the quartz hypothesis. Even if we placed unclassified flies either way, the results of the experiment will not be altered.
Besides the quartz experiment, I also conducted another experiment to test the hypothesis that astrology can predict future events in our lives. Here, eight short paragraphs that talked about the days of eight different people were written on cards. Each of the cards was assigned eight different letters. An effort was then made to match the predictions of eight different horoscopes with the card entries.
According to the observations that I was able to make during this particular experiment, there was no any match between the predicted horoscopes and actual events that had been entered on cards. Since there are twelve different horoscopes, the expectation is that at least one in twelve outcomes would be predicted.
The ratio of total responses to actual matches was ?:0. Thus, this particular experiment has disapproved the hypothesis that horoscopes can be used to predict actual events in our lives. A chi-squared analysis for this particular experiment yielded zero. Thus, since I could not calculate an appropriate probability for a zero value. I was not able to proceed with the chi-squared analysis.
The above experiment has clearly shown that horoscopes cannot be used to predict actual events in our lives. After subjecting the horoscope hypothesis to a test experiment, it was clearly concluded that the horoscope hypothesis is invalid. Since eight different horoscopes from eight major astrologers were used in this particular experiment, the observed results had a degree of high accuracy. Interestingly, a considerable proportion of people believe in the prediction power of horoscopes.
Since many people base the prediction power of horoscopes on future events, they tend to bias the predicted outcomes of the horoscopes to fit into their future expectations. So as to eliminate the tendency above, I pre-recorded data on events that had already occurred before trying to match those events with corresponding predictions from the horoscope. The horoscope experiment is thus reliable in disapproving the notion that horoscopes can predict future outcomes in our lives.
Results from the quartz crystal experiment invalidated the hypothesis that, when combined with meditation, crystals have supernatural healing powers. Likewise, the horoscope experiment disapproved the notion that horoscopes can be used to predict future events in our lives.
In both of the two experiments, I tried to establish if observed outcomes agreed with stated hypotheses. Usually, many beliefs in medieval science are based on superstitions and prepositions that cannot be proven by experiments to be true. Still, many hypotheses in medieval science are still finding a large following in our modern world. Although scientific approaches have their own limitations, it is more practical and useful to rely on scientific methodologies on given issues in our lives.
Andrew, M. (2008) Science versus fiction. Retrieved from www.science-fiction.com.
Fisher, F. (2011) Statistical tables for biological agricultural medical research.
Retrieved from www.chisquar.com
John, A. (2005) Are medieval beliefs true. Retrieved from www.medicalbeliefs.com
Stefanos, A. (2011) Greek folk magic Retrieved from www. greekfolkmagic.com