Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Should induction be part of the scientific method?

There are a lot of differing opinions about what the scientific method is or should be. It seems straigthforward: take some empirical evidence, use Karl Popper's falsifiable hypotheses scheme, do the experiment and repeat. Yet some people have a beef with the first part. In maths you can start with axioms, wich exist in plato's mathematical world and do not need to exist in our "real" world to be true. In biology we do not have this convenience. Is it ok then to start with observations rather than only deductions? When it comes to philosophy, age brings wisdom, and in honnor of Irving Rothchild, a famous reproductive biologist who just kicked the bucket at 92, I bring you his latest paper "Induction, Deduction, and the Scientific Method: An Eclectic Overview of the Practice of Science" which he published just earlier this month. I dunno about you but if i can think this clearly at 92 I'll be pretty happy!