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The role of calculations, hypotheses and experiments in theory

At present, the main method of scientific cognition offered in school textbooks is as follows. In the course of experimental and practical activity, we are confronted with questions concerning the cause-effect relations between phenomena. A hypothesis is put forth which explains this phenomenon. On the basis of this hypothesis,  is maid a theoretical forecast of the results of a possible experiment.

The coincidence of the experimental results and the theoretical forecast is a confirmation of the correctness of the hypothesis, which is turned into a theory. We have shown that such a scheme for science is idealistic and its non-critical acceptance leads to an incorrect understanding of the role of the experiment and of the ideas and the theoretical calculations in scientific work.

In reality, a scientific work is a work directed at elucidating and explaining the phenomena observed in nature and activities such as experimentation. Explanation includes interpretation on the basis of old essences. Deepening the explanation presupposes the reduction of the initial essences (the decrease of the basis and/or the increase of the number of phenomena to be explained).

This is actually the work of those who have proper scientific capabilities and are classified by ranks. Those in the highest of the ranks are capable of approaching the problem in a new way; they are capable of finding connections between independent phenomena and can see the main points in the question under study. Those in the lowest ranks are capable of offering ideas independent of their quality.

Experiments and abstract, theoretical reasoning are the main points of such work, and their relation to each other cannot be evaluated or, at least, should not generally be evaluated. Evaluation is possible only as a result of a scientist’s work in deepening the understanding of natural phenomena, and not as a result of his method (abstract logic and/or experimental work).

The role of the experiment has changed over the course of the development of science. For example, in the stage of structuring phenomenological theories, science is a set of rules, which are the product of theoretical works, the results of the work of scientists searching for general regularities and rules on the basis of existing experimental material.

In the phenomenological stage of the development of chemistry, the existence of chemical bonding and transformation, the Periodic Law, the Lewis Rules and VSEPR were discovered. The next stage for deepening the understanding was the decrease of the scientific basis for explaining chemical phenomena and chemical regulations on the basis of physical essences. In this stage, the role of the experiment was changed.

Thus, when elucidating the physical essence of chemical bonding on a hydrogen molecule where no additional suppositions were made and which had an analytical solution, the coincidence of the calculation and the experimental results are proof of the correctness of the understanding of molecule structure and the essence of chemical bonding.

The bonding energy in molecules composed of atoms with more than one electron cannot be calculated without additional suppositions; it can be evaluated only qualitatively. In this case, the experiment is the only way to get quantitative information.