'Zeteticism' is a system of scientific inquiry. The
word is derived from the Greek verb zeteo, which means
"to search or examine; to proceed only by inquiry."
Zeteticism differs from the usual scientific method in that
using zeteticism one bases his conclusions on
experimentation and observation rather than on an
initial theory that is to be proved or disproved.
A zetetic forms the question then immediately
sets to work making observations and performing
experiments to answer that question, rather than
speculating on what the answer might be then testing
For example, in questioning the shape of the Earth
the zetetic does not make a hypothesis suggesting
that the Earth is round or flat and then proceed
testing that hypothesis; he skips that step and
devises an experiment that will determine the shape
of the Earth, and bases his conclusion on the result
of that experiment. Many feel this is a more reasonable
method than the normal scientific method because it
removes any preconceived notions and biases the
formation of a hypothesis might cause, and leaves
the conclusion up entirely to what is observed.
Samuel Rowbotham was the first to use the term in
reference to Flat Earth research. He devised the
Bedford Level Experiment to determine whether the
surface of water is convex, reasoning that if the
water is not convex the earth cannot be a sphere.
This is how he came to the conclusion that the
Earth is flat. The method has been a cornerstone
of Flat Earth Theory ever since.