The Scientific Method

One of our motivations in developing this site, is to have Aquaponics become a scientific discipline – subject to valid inquiry and elucidation – via the scientific method.

The goal of Science is to know as many true things – and as few false things – as possible.

To that end, we advocate for a thing called the Scientific Method.

So, why is all of this important?

We only have reason (Science) from which to accurately evaluate reality.  One must apply reason (via the scientific method) to know (as distinct from believing) anything.  Reason is not a source (an author, an expert or a deity) – or a dictionary where you can look things up.

Reason (Science) is a method – a way of knowing – and, in fact, it’s the only way of actually knowing anything demonstrable.  The reason we can rely on science is that we can (and do) test it – demonstrate, verify and apply – so that we may know that it works.

Scientific merit also has power in the form of predictive utility, yet another test for accuracy, efficacy and validity.

We use Science to make sense of things and to improve our lives and possibly (hopefully) our future circumstances.  Science is the way we make sense of things, how to learn what’s real and true (and what is not).  It’s both the how and what we understand from the methodological application of reason.

There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.


And most of what passes for aquaponics is based on unsupported opinion – or pseudoscience.

Pseudoscience is a claim, belief or practice which is incorrectly presented as scientific, but does not adhere to a valid scientific method, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status.

Faith: [is] wanting to NOT know what is true.

Friedrich Nietzsche

And most of what is not an abject personal opinion or overt fantasy around aquaponics falls into the pseudoscience category.

So, why is this important?

We’re unaware of any valid experiment or research conducted by anyone … anywhere … since iAVs.

Nor, it seems, is there much in the way of understanding of what “replication” is in any clinical scientific context – nor how or why it is undertaken.

Also lacking is any apparent appreciation/application/understanding of empirical analysis, controls (for/of variables), confidence intervalscontrasts, error, experimental designfactorialsfalsifiability, investigator bias, randomization, rigour or significance.

One-off of anything proves absolutely nothing.   And repeating it (regardless of how many times that happens) still establishes or “proves” nothing in a scientific context.

This is particularly the case with something of the complexity of a multi-trophic ecosystem.

Whatever it might be – anti-academic bias, deception, distortion, egomania, faith, fraud or habit, it’s not Science.

“Faith is belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel”.

 Ambrose Bierce

Aquaponics will never become a discipline or a viable technology (much less be implemented at any meaningful scale) by continuing to apply the haphazard, bungling and wilfully ignorant approach of the past 25 years.

Sponsors and supporters are desperately needed from within the following disciplines:

  • aquaculture sciences
  • aquatic ecology
  • horticultural science
  • applied genetics
  • soil ecology and sciences
  • hydrology and water conservation
  • microbiology
  • nutritionists (aquatic, botanical, and human)
  • integrated pest management
  • controlled environmental engineering and management
  • eco/biological synergism and systematics
  • dynamic systems management
  • phycology
  • marketing and distribution of perishable commodities
  • post-harvest technologies and food safety regulation

So, let’s start that with a look at how the scientific method works.

  • Ask a non-trivial, specific question
  • Do comprehensive and relevant background research
  • Construct a testable hypothesis
  • Test Your hypothesis through experiment(s)
  • Analyze Your data and draw a conclusion
  • Communicate your results – in a relevant, refereed format and cite sources for all non-original content

Engineering (applied sciences) utilizes a similar approach known as the Engineering Design Method.

Once we’ve got a bit of scientific research and development happening, it’s probably time to invite the enterprise, investment and development sectors to the party.

All great truths begin as blasphemies.

George Bernard Shaw

Application of the Scientific Method – aka The Conduct of Analytical Research

1. Purpose:  Identify what you want to know, learn, understand, establish, develop …  and why.

2. Investigation :  Learn the prevailing state of knowledge within the subject area and pertinent topics

3. Hypothesis:  Formulate a testable hypothesis – designed to resolve the answer(s) to a specific question

4. Experiment:  Test hypothesis by the development and conduct of appropriate methodological tests (applicable/valid experimental design, to include relevant and significant checks, controls and sample sizes).

5. Analysis:  Access experimental results with appropriate/valid methodology.  This virtually always requires the application of relevant statistical analysis (requiring both multiple replicated (confirming) and contrasting (divergent) data sets).

6. Conclusion:  Support all conclusions with significant (statistically probable, verifiable) findings.

7. Publication:  Subject the applied methodology, findings, analysis and conclusions reached to scrutinization (acceptance or rejection) by anonymous (non-vested) professionals qualified to assess competence and validity within the given subject area.

“What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” ~ Christopher Hitchens


Related Articles



You may republish this article online or in print under our Creative Commons license. You may not edit or shorten the text, you must attribute the article to 'iAVs Official Website' and you must include the website url in your republication.

If you have any questions, please email


Creative Commons License Attribution-NoDerivsCreative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs
The Scientific Method