The Scientific Method in Crime: Review

The scientific method is defined as “the set of procedures that form the rational approach to studying the natural world” and it involves deduction as well as induction (Pyrek, 2007). The scientific method is therefore a method of reasoning and of logical proof as opposed to the crude trial and error method that is non-scientific. This method can be used to solve both basic and complicated real-life problems.

This is because the primary objective of the scientific method is to come up with reliable answers and solutions to a particular problem in a manner that is not only verifiable but also repeatable. This means that the results obtained can be replicated by other people with similar results. The scientific method therefore makes it possible for us to make predictions of what will occur in particular circumstances. Ritchie (2001) notes that scientific explanations are subject to future reviews and reconsiderations when new evidence is revealed or sounder explanations given to a phenomenon.

My Experiment

In my experiment, I shall use the scientific method in an attempt to solve a crime. The crime in question involves a Sally Smith who was found murdered after her car had been carjacked (Oklahoma City Community College, 2010). Owing to the lack of witnesses, the scientific method presents the best chance of solving the crime. The first step in the scientific method is the observation step. Observation may be viewed as the information gathering phase of the method by use of instruments or even a person’s physical senses. In my experiment, the most significant observation made was the foreign fingerprint on Sally’s car.

In addition to this observation, the police received tips on three possible suspects in the case who provided fingerprints to be used in the observation. This observation phase invariably leads to the questioning of the observations made. This questions aim to establish why or when or how things happen as they do. The questions that resulted in my experiment where “who among the three suspects was responsible for the crime?”

The second step in the scientific method is the formulation of a hypothesis. A hypothesis is used to try and provide the answers to the questions raised. A hypothesis by definition is a conjecture to the question posed is formulated. Hypotheses provide some specifics that lead to methods of testing and also lead to predictions of the outcome. Gauch (2003 p. 98) denotes that for a hypothesis to be useful, it should suggest what evidence would support it and what evidence would refute it.

In my experiment, the hypothesis is that “fingerprints from Sally’s car could tie one of the suspects to the crime”. This is a useful hypothesis since it points out that it is the observed evidence (fingerprint) that will be used to either prove or disapprove the hypothesis. From this, I predicted that by comparing the fingerprint obtained from Sally’s car to the respective fingerprints from the suspects, the perpetrator of the crime will be identified.

The next phase is the testing of the formulated hypothesis. Testing is as a direct result of the predictions made regarding the hypothesis formulated. This is because testing aims at determining the accuracy of the predictions that a person has made. In my particular experiment, the testing of fingerprints will be conducted as a controlled experiment. This is because only one factor (similarity) will be tested at a time. This will be done against the three samples from the suspects available. This being the case, it may be necessary for a number of tests to be made before enough data is collected to allow for the analysis of the results. After conducting the tests in my experiment, the results indicated that the print belonged to Mr. Jesse. This is because his fingerprint was an identical match to the print obtained from Sally’s car.

In the scientific method, from the results obtained, conclusions can be made as to whether the results support the hypothesis that had been made. In my experiment, it was possible to reach the conclusion that it was Jesse who committed the crime under investigation. This is because his fingerprint which matched with the print obtained from Sally’s car tied him to the crime. As such, it could conclusively be stated that he was the one who committed the crime. Also, the other suspects could be exonerated from the crime as a result of the conclusion arrived at using the scientific method. Jesse went on to confess to the crime on being presented with the scientific findings therefore confirming the accuracy of the scientific method in solving this crime.

Using the Scientific Method to Solve a Problem

As has been alluded to though out this paper, the scientific method can be used for problem solving in real-life situations. I have at one time used this method to solve a problem that I encountered. This problem arose from a meal that I cooked at home. On taking the meal, I developed stomach upsets which disappeared after a few hours. I made an observation that I had used four spices which I had never used before in my preparation of the meal. This led me to question which of the ingredients could have been responsible for my stomach upsets.

After observing the problem, I came up with a hypothesis as to what could be causing the stomach upsets. My hypothesis in this situation was that “one of the foreign spices was responsible for my stomach ache”. This was because I had ever prepared the exact meal in the past without any stomach upsets. I therefore made the prediction that by making a number of meals using each of the spices individually, I could identify the particular ingredient that was causing my stomach upsets.

I then proceeded to perform a series of tests so as to see if the predictions I had made held. The meal which had caused my stomach upset had four spices in particular; bay leaves, basil, thyme and cumin. I therefore prepared the first meal with bay leaves as the only spice, and consumed it. After that, I waited until the next day and repeated the test with each of the other spices respectively. This was in a bid to identify which spice I had a negative reaction to. On the day that I prepared my meal with thyme, I had a stomach upset.

From this test results, I was able to come to the conclusion that it was thyme that was causing my stomach upsets. This was because I did not have negative reactions from eating the meals prepared using any of the other spices independently. From these conclusions, I identified that I have a negative reaction to the spice thyme. I therefore made a point to avoid using it in the future. As can be seen, I used the scientific method to solve a real-life problem in my life.


Gauch, G. H. (2003). Scientific Method in Practice. Cambridge University Press.

Pyrek, K. (2007). Forensic Science Under Siege: the Challenges of Forensic Laboratories and the Medico-legal Death Investigation System. Academic Press.

Oklahoma City Community College (2010). Scientific Method. Web.

Ritchie, A. D. (2001). Scientific Method: an Inquiry into the Character and Validity of Natural Laws. Routledge.