The 17th Century, the so-called Age of Reason, is distant from us in nearly every respect: dress, politics, thought, and, of course, time. The collection of philosophers that wrote then can seem out of touch today. But perhaps we just need a refresher.

One of the philosophers, Rene Descartes (1596–1650 CE), in particular, seems dreadfully mundane. Cartesian coordinates is to us obvious and, though there have been volumes written about it, cogito ergo sum seems like a celebration of trivia. The Scientific Method, the subject of this short piece, also seems commonplace. But the Method is as relevant today as it was then. We write to extol the Method here as a way of making research into the Earth sciences, particularly research into hydrocarbon extraction, more effective.

The Method consists of three sequential steps: hypothesis, validation, and rejection/modificatiion.

Hypothesis. The...

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