Talk:History of scientific method

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Notice: Interested contributors may wish to add to the discussion at Wikipedia talk:Scientific peer review by working scientists.

Talk:History of scientific method/Archive 1

Russell as a source[edit]

Russell's history is notoriously sloppy. Kiefer.Wolfowitz (talk) 00:19, 7 February 2010 (UTC

Expand Aristotle[edit]

Aristotle agreed with Plato that the cosmos is rationally designed and that philosophy can come to know absolute truths by studying universal forms. Their ideas diverged, however, in that Aristotle thought that the one finds the universal in particular things, while Plato believed the universal exists apart from particular things, and that material things are only a shadow of true reality, which exists in the realm of ideas and forms. The fundamental difference between the two philosophers is that Plato thought only pure mathematical reasoning was necessary, and therefore focused on metaphysics and mathemtics. Aristotle, on the other hand, thought that in addition to this "first philosophy," it is also necessary to undertake detailed empirical investigations of nature, and thus to study what he called "second philosophy," which includes such subjects as physics, mechanics and biology. Aristotle's philosophy therefore involved both inductive and deductive reasoning, observing the workings of the world around him and then reasoning from the particular to a knowledge of essences and universal laws. In a sense, Aristotle was the first major proponent of the modern scientific method. The Lyceum was an unprecedented school of organized scientific inquiry. There was no comparable scientific enterprise for over 2,000 years after the founding of the Lyceum.[1]

I am trying to locate more sources for Aristotle and the scientific method the highlighted sentence above was deleted by a now banned user and I would like to expand the section on Aristotle. J8079s (talk) 22:52, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
    • I'm not sure if you would find this helpful or not in the area of Aristotle: openi.nlm.nih.gov/detailedresult.php?img=3066836_qhc46557fig1&req=4

Biblical use of the modern scientific method[edit]

I've been trying to add the historically documented and peer reviewed fact that quite a bit before Aristotle, Daniel in the Bible used the modern scientific method. I also have historical references to improve Islamic science some. But, if people are going to use bias to suppress historical facts, wikipedia becomes nothing more than an arm of propaganda wherever that is done.

This is the section that I've been trying to include. It's just simply stating facts of history.


Biblical use of the modern scientific method

The first recorded use of the modern scientific method or clinical trial in history with a control group was performed by Daniel, a captive Jew in Babylon. In Daniel 1, he proposed a 10 day scientific test comparing the Biblical diet (vegetarian) to the Babylonian diet (highly meat based) using 2 groups of boys to determine which was healthier.


Dr. David Grimes reviews this comparing it to the modern clinical method in detail and writes: “Around 600 BC, Daniel of Judah conducted…the earliest recorded clinical trial. His trial compared the health effects of a vegetarian diet with those of a royal Babylonian diet over a 10-day period. The strengths of his study include the use of a contemporaneous control group, use of an independent assessor of outcome, and striking brevity in the published report.” Clinical research in ancient Babylon: methodologic insights from the book of Daniel. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7501328


The full paper can also be viewed here: http://oldjll.sustainabilityforhealth.org/trial_records/bc/daniel/grimes-commentary.pdf

The Bible also advocated advocated testing everything (I Thessalonians 5:21), using a number of empirical methods to verify facts and truth.


Much other data here and elsewhere on wikipedia is accepted SOLELY and exclusively based on original documents, primary sources. The Bible is identical to those. And yet people don't want to use the same standards with it. Dotoree (talk) 16:20, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

  • Peer reviewed by whom? This is written by a gynecologist, not a scientist specializing in archaeology or history and publishing in publications dealing with either. Unless their are others who agree with his hypothesis and therefore help it pass WP:NOTABLE, it wont pass WP:FRINGE and WP:UNDUE to include a gynecologist musings on how he thinks a biblical figure first used the scientific method thousands of years before modern Europeans. And anyway, what does this have to do at all with Aristotle? Or is this just more of you not pushing a Christian biblical worldview? Heiro 23:08, 21 February 2013 (UTC)
    • I'm sorry but it was peer reviewed by the JOURNAL and several authorities in the field, NOT just 1 person. Do you know how peer review works? The journal is a medical journal extremely concerned with health issues, clinical trials and that is precisely what Daniel's experiment was about. Yes, there are plenty of other scholars who verify this, but there really is nothing more needed than verifying it by reading Daniel 1, and possibly an expert evaluating that in comparison with the scientific or clinical method as was done. That's all that many claims in Wikipedia need and often less, just a single reference in a historical source and they are accepted. Sometimes just an opinion without any reference. Again, the double standards are rife against the Bible, but not just against religions...against other targets too at times. Dotoree (talk) 16:24, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
Stop re-factoring your posts after others have replied to them. It is seriously frowned upon here. It makes the actual events of a conversation hard to follow. If someone else replies to your post and you realize you should have said something else, add a reply, don't refactor half of what you already said. Also, I have warned you for this before DO NOT REFACTOR MY STATEMENTS. You removed bluelinks in my last comment while you refactored the hell out of your own statements, you removed the links from my signature and you changed the bulleting style, none of which is permissable. Do this again and I will take this to the admin boards for sanctions. You are not permitted to edit anothers response without their consent and you do not have it.
The bible is a primary source and acceptable here on Wikipedia as an authority only on its own text. Any and all interpretations of that texts meaning must come from a reliable secondary source. Just because an article got published doesn't mean the scientific community has taken it seriously. Is the gynecologist also an expert on ancient texts? You still haven't explained how that reference passesWP:NOTABLE, WP:FRINGE and WP:UNDUE. Heiro 17:38, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
A gynecologist is not an expert in either biblical studies or the history of science. If it gets published in a relevant journal and gets some attention, then we might use it worded in a way that meets WP:NPOV, in other words making it clear that this is not fact but the opinion of a gynecologist. Dougweller (talk) 17:50, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
      • I have edited my posts before people responded to them at times because I saw something I missed or something wasn't clear, make it more readable, etc. NEVER to change the history of the conversation. But, I post replies to their comments later. And I did add stars before 1-2 of your posts so it would be easier for people to distinguish and read who was writing. I did NOT change blue links. I did click on them to read and make sure I understood them. I did also move this discussion out of the Aristotle one due to your suggestion. That's it.
      • I HAVE provided BOTH a primary source and a secondary source and the Bible is the primary source which contains a record of a scientific experiment being done by Daniel that follows the steps of the modern scientific method. The section on Aristotle has only 1 primary source and 1 secondary source. No difference. Double standard. And yes, I can provide other sources that verify this as well. The main issue in this topic has nothing to do with the issues you are raising. It only has to do with whether a document in history has the steps of the scientific method in it. Daniel's indisputably followed those basic steps and it is the first in history to do so. To deny people from doing this is an act of erasing history. You might as well just erase Aristotle, and the Egyptians and others who have about the same amount of primary sources.
      • If you had actually done a simply google, you wouldn't have used straw men about Dr. Grimes and if you had read the article you wouldn't have falsely alleged it was just musings. It is nothing of the sort. Dr. Grimes has a degree in biology from Harvard. He has certification in Public Health and General Preventive Medicine from the American Board of Preventive Medicine. "Dr. Grimes has had a dual career in clinical ob/gyn and in preventive medicine for the past three decades. He served as an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control for nine years. He has also been a faculty member in four medical schools: Emory University, University of Southern California, University of California-San Francisco, and University of North Carolina. This is PRECISELY the kind of scientific expert, one who has worked at high levels in public health, who would be ideal to evaluate how comparable a scientific experiment in the Bible is to the modern scientific method. You might be able to find a bit better, but not much. See this site for verification. http://davidagrimes.com/ Dotoree (talk) 18:25, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
      • This is NOT about converting people. It is about being honest and faithful with the historical facts. If muslims have a historical record of achievements, that should be recognized and people should know about it. If atheists do, same. If anarchists do, same. If Christians or Jews have made contributions in history and it can be seen in primary sources, that also must be recognized. To erase historically documented facts is thoroughly immoral and an attack on knowledge and rational thought. There is nothing ethical about it. It only does harm to humanity. Dotoree (talk) 18:33, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

If the description in Daniel is as clear as it appears in Dotoree post, I do not see any need for a secondary source to support it. But Dotoree should scale down the claims. To say that it is "The first recorded use of the modern scientific method or clinical trial in history" sounds too big, and would require a very reliable secondary source. On the other hand, modern scientific method entails the systematic use of testing. So I suggest that Dotoree makes a more modest statement, citing this historical record with the value it has, but not more.--Auró (talk) 22:17, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

The PubMed abstract also says "weaknesses [in Daniel's clinical study] are bias 1, bias 2, and confounding by divine intervention". In other words, Grimes was injecting some humor to bring a smile to the readers. It may help to lighten up on the import of the claims, as Auró states above. --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 22:33, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
(EC) It is not that clear cut. The only source so far supplied supporting the claim is one article written by a gynecologist and published in Obstetrics & Gynecology (journal)[2], not by an expert in biblical studies, ancient texts, or the history of science. While I'm sure the good doctor is outstanding in his field of expertise, him comparing the seeming similarities of modern scientific practices and a few lines of biblical texts are musings and nothing more. They do not pass WP:UNDUE, WP:NOTABLE, or WP:FRINGE. And the editor using it to shoehorn his biblical worldview into an article does not pass WP:NPOV. Heiro 22:38, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
Wikipedia policy urges caution in the use of primary sources, "because it is easy to misuse them", adding the note that "Any exceptional claim would require exceptional sources". Since the claim for scientific method in the Book of Daniel is an exceptional claim, we should go beyond interpretation of primary sources to reliable secondary sources.
A medical doctor is qualified to evaluate modern medical researdh; he is not, however, trained to evaluate historical texts. That kind of historical expertise is what is called for here. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 22:50, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
    • 1) Auró, thanks for trying to be reasonable. The Bible is the primary source here and it is all that matters. We can see the steps of the scientific method easily in Daniel 1. I can list them in detail if needed. Do you know of any use of the modern scientific method before Daniel? If not, then it is fully legitimate to call it "the first recorded use". That is a modest claim already. You can't get a more reliable secondary source than someone who has been working in public health for ~30 years and has the qualifications of Dr. Grimes. See the link given above.

"Experts have suggested a 32-point structured format for reporting randomized trials, to improve the quality of this type of research. To demonstrate the usefulness of this format, I used it to evaluate the earliest known report of a clinical trial." http://oldjll.sustainabilityforhealth.org/trial_records/bc/daniel/grimes-commentary.pdf

    • 2) A doctor with credentials in public health is by far the most important relevant expert here. It's just bias to say that this isn't the relevant expert. If I had listed a biblical expert (which I can easily do), biased people would say, oh, that isn't relevant, you need a scientist in public health. the fact is I have many of BOTH. There is no shoehorning of any type being done. This is most definitely about as neutral a point of view as is possible (I could easily make it FAR more subjective). There is nothing fringe about this. It's a documented historical fact. There is no exceptional claim here and I've already provided 2 exceptional sources (the Bible which has no rival in ancient history in terms of accuracy and a modern peer reviewed journal (and I can list MANY more theologians and some more doctors on this as well). It is intentional fraud to represent a peer reviewed comparison of an ancient text with the modern clinical trial method as musings. That is either a lie or a claim by someone who has not actually taken time to read the peer reviewed material. There are no musings there. The critics are using only bias here.
    • 3)Every human being on the planet has bias. If you're alive you have bias. Do I need to list peer reviewed books and articles on this? It is common knowledge. The wrong thing is when biased is used to misrepresent facts/evidence or worse censor/erase/disappear them. THAT is a significant problem and it is unfortunately what is happening here. Daniel of course has bias. But, there was also extreme bias AGAINST Daniel by the assessor of the results, which was not mentioned. The independent assessor of the results who was not even Jewish and heavily biased against Daniel's idea.

"The trial was a secret, because discovery might have led to the death of Ashpenaz (the Babylonian in charge and the assessor of the outcome). Ashpenaz considered the vegetarian diet potentially dangerous to the trial participants and, hence, indirectly to himself. http://oldjll.sustainabilityforhealth.org/trial_records/bc/daniel/grimes-commentary.pdf

And the results were actually a result of following God's wisdom, not God's intervention of any kind. I've done a similar experiment to Daniel's with many students from many backgrounds and religions, and many students report that they have quite significantly improved health in just 1-2 weeks.

    • 4) A few more quotes from Dr. Grimes:

"Daniel's trial anticipated the essence of the scientific method: an experimental group exposed to the factor of interest compared with contemporaneous unexposed controls...In his famous 1747 study, Lind followed Daniel's precedent of a small dietary trial in preventing scurvy among British sailors. Despite six different treatment arms and a total of only 12 participants, citrus fruit supplementation was strikingly effective. The trial led to effective prophylaxis and the nickname "limeys" for British seamen.2"

Later "...by contemporary standards, Daniel's trial had numerous deficiencies. However, many of these weaknesses persist in clinical research today. Indeed, some modern investigators have drawn causal inferences without the use of appropriate controls." http://oldjll.sustainabilityforhealth.org/trial_records/bc/daniel/grimes-commentary.pdf Dotoree (talk) 13:16, 28 February 2013 (UTC)

Dotoree, to add balance to your viewpoint, might you agree to include some experimenters who were contemporary, or even prior, to Daniel? I refer to Psamtik I and Sun Tzu. There are other accounts of contemporary experiments, doubtless --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 14:49, 28 February 2013 (UTC)
That still leaves the sourcing problem. I don't see Grimes as a reliable source for this, nor do I see his viewpoint as significant enough to get by WP:UNDUE. Are there any reliable sources that actually discuss either Grimes' article or Daniel as an early example of scientific method? Dougweller (talk) 16:59, 28 February 2013 (UTC)
There is a danger when including a revisionist viewpoint in the article, stated clearly by David C. Lindberg (2007) The Beginnings of Western Science 2nd Ed. ISBN 978-0-226-48205-7 pp.2-3: "There is a danger that must be avoided. ... If we wish to do justice to the historical enterprise, we must take the past for what it was. And that means we must resist the temptation to scour the past for examples or precursors of modern science. ..." This amounts to a major criticism of Grimes' article and explains why his light-hearted article ought to be taken for what it was, an exercise just for fun. Note the name of the section in publishing journal: "Outside office hours" Grimes clearly did not mean for his article to be taken other than for fun. --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 19:39, 24 March 2013 (UTC)
    • (sorry for delays, had major computer problems,finally got a new one). This is not my viewpoint. It's a fact of history. If other sources have solid ancient evidence, esp. primary sources, that they used the modern scientific method, they also should be listed along with Daniel and others (for Psamtik I was only have a secondary source about 2 centuries after he lived, no primary sources...far less than we have for the Bible..but it might be OK to include that with that qualification. Sun Tzu's seems like it has a much better case than Psamtik's for being included). Why should we cover up and deny the facts of history? That just severely damages people's knowledge about facts and does nothing to help anyone make rational judgements and evaluations.
    • There is no problem with the sources I am talking about. We have the primary source, Daniel, which dates to 5-600 BC for about 80 different reasons. We have modern authorities and doctors commenting on it as well. Dr. Grimes is one with degrees and experience in extremely appropriate fields. He could not be a more reliable source. PERIOD. There are a number of others as well which I can cite if needed. Quite a few others in the list are not well known at all. Arguably, the case of Daniel has quite a bit more support than others that are being listed. The purpose of wikipedia is not to cover up historical facts. Yet that is precisely what is being done here.Dotoree (talk) 12:38, 24 March 2013 (UTC)

Dotoree, I suggest you make an statement similar to "In the historic Bible Book of Daniel there is a description of hypothesis testing by means of experimentation", followed by the description of the experiment. This could be placed in the "early methodology" section, and hope nobody should have serious base for objecting to it.--Auró (talk) 07:01, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

A valid objection was just raised above by Ancheta Wis. Heiro 15:29, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
A further objection to this insertion is that even if it were demonstrated that the account in the book of Daniel reflects the use of scientific method, there is no sign that Daniel clearly considered the question of what is proper scientific method. He wasn't dealing with issues of scientific method.
Furthermore, as Ancheta Wis points out, the other question of whether Daniel used scientific method (whether or not he was conscious of it) needs to be demonstrated by something better than Grimes's "Outside office hours" essay in a medical journal. SteveMcCluskey (talk) 16:24, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
Please see that my proposal does not claim that Daniel was using the "scientific method", only that the description merits to be included in the "early methodology" as, regardless Daniel's intentions or states of mind, the objective fact is that it contains the description of a hypothesis validation by testing.--Auró (talk) 22:52, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
Please see above that several editors have requested that a WP:RELIABLE source for said assertion be found before it is even considered for inclusion, not a gynecologist writing a tongue in cheek essay in a medical journals "Outside office hours" section, per WP:EXCEPTIONAL.Heiro 23:24, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

A reliable secondary source would indeed be needed to support the initial claim that Dottoree was making. I think it is not necessary for my proposal, as it goes no further than collecting what the primary source says.--Auró (talk) 07:34, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

Auró, Here is where the qualified historian/secondary source is irreplaceable: the mere fact that 'hypothesis' is a word in Ancient Greek shows the danger in the proposal. __Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 11:52, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
Ancheta Wis, the word 'hypothesis' comes from ancient Greek, but is used in modern languages, among them English. So I do not catch your point. I have been reading Daniel book, and what I see is that what Daniel explains is a very common exercise that even in present day many persons, that probably have no idea what the scientific method is, use. The important point in Scientific Method is the 'systematic' use of very usual and common reasoning and experimentation tools that are in the normal human toolbox. For this reason I think it would be useful to include this early written reference to 'hypothesis testing' in the "Early methodology" section, to highlight this point of ancient use of "method", though it could not still be termed as "scientific method". I do not see any difference for this proposed ancient record compared to the other instances included in the section.--Auró (talk) 22:11, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
Find a WP:RELIABLE(i.e. other than a non expert musing in a tongue in cheek fashion) non-WP:PRIMARY source for this. You cant WP:OR and WP:SYNTH your own interpretations of biblical verses into an article by deciding what it means for yourself. Read WP:EXCEPTIONAL, where it states "claims that are contradicted by the prevailing view within the relevant community, or that would significantly alter mainstream assumptions, especially in science, medicine, history, politics, and biographies of living people. This is especially true when proponents say there is a conspiracy to silence them." The same policies apply to the section you want to add this to, just as they apply to the rest of the article. Heiro 22:32, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

This is a cite from WP:PRIMARY "Appropriate sourcing can be a complicated issue, and these are general rules. Deciding whether primary, secondary or tertiary sources are appropriate on any given occasion is a matter of good editorial judgment and common sense, and should be discussed on article talk pages."

Let’s be pragmatic. It is not possible to include the Daniel description into the article without making some comment, that can be objected to because of being a "personal interpretation" or "personal point of view". But if we consider that the main interest of Wikipedia is the reader, I think that we are loosing an opportunity to serve her. It is an ancient recorded instance of "hypothesis testing", (or whatever more neutral name we could use for it). Of course, this would need the understanding of some other editors of the article.--Auró (talk) 08:10, 29 March 2013 (UTC)

You mean the other editors here should look the other way so dotoree and yourself can insert WP:OR into an article for the sake of having some biblically based nonsense and wishful thinking there? Emphatically and respectfully, no. Heiro 08:49, 29 March 2013 (UTC)
I am fond of this article, to which I am a small contributor. It is proving of this that I have translated it for Catalan Wikipedia. I, therefore, have respect for the main editors of it, and would ask them nothing similar to deserting what they consider to be their responsibility.
I am particularly sensible to the controversy about using "primary sources", and resist to the easy expediency of the invocation for the need to use secondary sources. Primary sources may be applied, if we use Common sense, a requisite that eventually it is also needed for the use of secondary sources.
We are editors, and should not add information derived from our own thinking. This I understand and try to respect. But also think that it is necessary to make distinction between this and the simple use of some introductory comment; just to weld a piece of information into the body of an article.
All that said, I propose the following text to the consideration of this article editors:
"The Book of Daniel, that is part of the Bible, contains the description of a procedure that may receive the name of testing, and it consisted in comparing the results of the standard Chaldean diet and a vegetarian diet, by the submission of a group of young men to the vegetarian diet for a period of time, and subsequent comparison of results." [1]--Auró (talk) 19:35, 31 March 2013 (UTC)
  1. ^ "The Food Test". Book of Daniel. US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
Thou shalt not produce original research: the US Conference of Catholic Bishops is no doubt a useful source for RC theology, but not for science, and indeed the source you cite makes no mention of science. There is more to scientific method than comparing results of diets, and alternative magical explanations do not form part of that method. . . dave souza, talk 20:10, 31 March 2013 (UTC)
Furthermore, the citation to the USCCB is not to a scholarly note on the book of Daniel, but to the biblical text itself, accompanied by glosses that do not address the issue being raised here. Interpretation of an ambiguous primary text remains original research. Perhaps a philosophically trained biblical commentator may have said something on this text, but I haven't seen it discussed here. SteveMcCluskey (talk) 21:44, 31 March 2013 (UTC)

I appreciate SteveMcCluskey comment. The whole question could probably had been proposed in a different way. From my part I will not insist any further on the present discussion. Maybe I will present a new proposal, under new subject title.--Auró (talk) 07:23, 3 April 2013 (UTC)

Page title[edit]

Why isn't this at History of the scientific method? Adding "the" would make the title sound much more natural than leaving it off. Nyttend (talk) 00:28, 26 February 2013 (UTC)

That would assume that the history converges on a single method: the scientific method. --ChrisSteinbach (talk) 18:11, 26 February 2013 (UTC)

John Herschel[edit]

John Herschel's A preliminary discourse on the study of natural philosophy was an influential text on scientific method, presenting an inductive method which was debated at the University of Cambridge early in 1831 with Whewell, whose own methodology apparently differed and was published later, from Browne, E. Janet (1995), Charles Darwin: vol. 1 Voyaging, London: Jonathan Cape, ISBN 1-84413-314-1  p. 128. She highlights its influence on Darwin, is it worth a brief note in this article? . . . dave souza, talk 19:26, 28 February 2013 (UTC)

Thank you; I picked up on the "rapid advance" in his TOC, pp.347-8:"But the total want of a right direction given to enquiry, and of a clear perception of the objects to be aimed at, and the advantages to be gained by systematic and connected research, together with the general apathy of society to speculations ... [prevented] any regular and steady progress on science." -- Cabinet Encyclopedia (1830, 1840)
So it appears that Herschel saw the power of directed enquiry, which influenced Whewell, who influenced Mill, etc. Might Browne have a sentence announcing that, perhaps? --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 00:29, 1 March 2013 (UTC)
Rather than trying to put together quotations from sources, I've boldly edited using David Young and Patrick Armstrong as sources rather than Browne, and have added the point that Whewell's ideas were similar, according to Young. The sequence seems reasonably self explanatory.
Browne has a couple of pages on the situation at Cambridge at the time, discussing Whewell's later career without clearly showing sequence. Whewell, who was professor of mineralogy, was one of the leading lights in developing natural theology into science: another was Adam Sedgwick, who emphasised that science must converge onto God's truth. Herschel was part of the Cambridge circle, and was involved in reforms to the university, but had already moved elsewhere and was by then highly honoured: he gained his knighthood in 1831. When his Preliminary Discourse was published in that year, it was discussed by the Cambridge dons, and recommended by Henslow to Darwin, who used as a basis for his scientific thinking during the Beagle voyage. When developing his theory around the end of 1838, Darwin re-read Herschel and studied Whewell's book.[3] Something of interest which I've avoided using as a citation is Charles H. Pence, Charles Darwin and Sir John F. W. Herschel: Nineteenth-Century Science and its Methodology - PhilPapers. The pdf is marked "Unpublished Working Paper; Do Not Cite" so I don't think we can use it as a rs. . dave souza, talk 19:32, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

Suggestion for inclusion of two others early contributors[edit]

After perusing the article on the scientific method itself in addition to contributing to a biography, I noticed two individuals who I thought could possibly be included here. Upon reviewing this article, though, I noticed that it is already quite long and we certainly don't want it to be bloated. I do, however, feel this warrants mention and would like to see what others think. Medieval Andalusian pharmacist Abu al-Abbas al-Nabati is credited with introducing the method to Materia medica; his work is said to have lead to the establishment of pharmacology as a field. He was also the teacher of Ibn al-Baitar, who could also possibly be mentioned in a small blurb. What do others make of this? There isn't as much material available on these two as the other individuals mentioned here, but perhaps a passing mention wouldn't hurt. MezzoMezzo (talk) 09:58, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

What was their contribution to a specific method? Might there be quotable material from them to support their inclusion in the article? Or was it a philosophical or methodological orientation which made them notable? --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 19:00, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
Well, Ibn al-Baitar seems to have a more detailed article though his contribution doesn't seem as distinguished - he apparently composed a record of all previous medical discoveries made in the Near East up to that point. He is, however, always mentioned alongside his teacher al-Nabati, who seems to have less coverage. His contribution seems more significant; what I'm seeing at Materia_medica#Medieval, Timeline_of_biology_and_organic_chemistry#Before_1600 and History_of_botany#Medicinal_plants_of_the_early_Middle_Ages is that he was the first to really organize the method as it applied to botany and pharmacology, using empirical testing methods and separating verified and unverified reports. The claim seems to be that he was the first. I am, however, woefully ignorant of the history of the scientific method specifically, so I'm not sure if that would be considered notable in light of the other individuals included here. MezzoMezzo (talk) 03:39, 3 June 2013 (UTC)

rewrite Aristotle[edit]

I changed the section header. The Organon in general and Posterior Analytics in particular. are the "scientific method " for a long time. I think the section needs to be re-written. J8079s (talk) 00:25, 7 February 2015 (UTC)

In tandem, there is also material on Epicurus' scientific method, such as letter to Herodotus, a summary. I have personally found that Epicurus adds perspective. It is compatible, in modern form, to the first chapter of the Feynman Lectures on Physics, beginning with the atomic theory of Democritus. --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 05:03, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
Good. I am using Gauch, Hugh G. (2003). Scientific Method in Practice. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521017084. Retrieved 7 February 2015.  as a guide I do not have a copy but but it will work for now. He mentions Epicurus but in little detail detail. there are a lot names to add, but first I think defining terms is important. J8079s (talk) 17:25, 7 February 2015 (UTC)
The Gauch 2003 p.45 citation is unfortunate. When I read Gauch 2003, what I especially appreciated was his position on commonsense. But this newest selection from Gauch needs to be re-thought somehow. Before the newest edit of the History of scientific method#Aristotelian method, the article's position on induction was clear; but this change muddies the waters. Previously, the article was consistent about induction. Note that "there is no logical basis for induction" p.214 via JSTOR —(Michael T. Ghiselin (Sep., 1966), "On Psychologism in the Logic of Taxonomic Controversies" Systematic Zoology 15(3) , pp. 207-215. Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. for the Society of Systematic Biologists, Page Count: 9) If that was Aristotle's position, then that explains the false generalizations from Aristotle which have been uncovered, especially during the scientific revolution. See for example, his spontaneous generation which is covered in freshman biology.
Revert? --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 22:12, 10 February 2015 (UTC)
I think we can balance better through addition. Aristotle was wrong about almost everything. The reasons that jump to mind lack of controls ect. but I'll look for a source that lists them. Stoics are a lot more interested in induction with multiple variables. J8079s (talk) 00:39, 11 February 2015 (UTC)
How do you propose to solve the structural problem? As the article stands, Aristotle could only fall back on intuition, which is hardly a reproducible method. Induction fails for the Stoics; their chief contribution, the continuum (See Sambursky) was an intuitive concept. Even Epicurus had a better method here. --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 15:48, 11 February 2015 (UTC)
I've just noticed this discussion since I follow this page, and thought I'd toss in my two cents worth:
  • First, the note that "Aristotle was wrong about almost everything" strikes this historian as asking the wrong question. It isn't whether his conclusions were wrong but whether his reasoning was valid, given what he knew at his time. Any other approach is profoundly ahistorical or, to use historians' jargon, an example of Whig history.
  • Second, I'd recommend you take a look at the writings of G. E. R. Lloyd on Aristotle's science; a good introduction is his Aristotle, The Growth and Structure of His Thought (1968), which has a nice discussion of Aristotle's biological method at pp. 69-81. I especially like the passage from De partibus animalium 644b22-645a36 on the value of anatomical investigations quoted at pp. 70-71 and the examples of such investigations discussed from pp. 73-71. Lloyd also has an interesting essay discussing how Aristotle dealt with the problems raised by spontaneous generation (e.g., how can a spontaneously generated animal be like others of its kind?) in his Aristotelian Explorations (1996).
--SteveMcCluskey (talk) 20:05, 11 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks Steve. I have guest access at Jstor and access to Questia I think we need (per policy) more general sources for the overall structure of the article to avoid WP:OR (which I think is what we have, to a degree) Your first point is the I intended. J8079s (talk) 21:00, 11 February 2015 (UTC)
@J8079s we have Wikisources: Aristotle (350 BCE) De partibus animalium Book I II III IV
And De partibus animalium 644b22-645a36 is in conflict with Aristotle's Organon Part 6: Sophistical Refutations #12:affirming the consequent, a logical fallacy which conflicts with his 'deep-seated personal feelings' in which 'in nature purpose is predominant and there is an absence of chance'. This is Aristotle's own intuitive teleology. So the question is: 'what validates this teleology?' What is the principle of proof? Yes, I am aware that Aristotle was born to the guild of physicians. --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 22:32, 11 February 2015 (UTC)

Willich[edit]

There is a bare sentence about Willich which appears in a context 400 years too early. It has no citation, either. It might be more constructive to have it in a later section. --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 14:37, 9 February 2015 (UTC)

Be Bold J8079s (talk) 15:27, 9 February 2015 (UTC)
I moved the sentence just before 1562, with the publication of Sextus Empiricus. --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 19:20, 9 February 2015 (UTC)

Epicurus[edit]

I found this: "scientific method with a distinctive emphasis on multiple working hypotheses" at Gauch, Hugh G. (2003). Scientific Method in Practice. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521017084. Retrieved 12 February 2015.  They cite "Amiss" as their source. I would like to work it in some how but I don't want to upset the flow. J8079s (talk) 20:36, 12 February 2015 (UTC)

It's a typo. Elizabeth Asmis is her name. --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 20:55, 12 February 2015 (UTC)

My typo sorry J8079s (talk) 23:22, 12 February 2015 (UTC)

Humboldtian science[edit]

The article is about history of methodology, not about philosophy of science. Please move your contribution to an article about Methodological naturalism and Humboldtian science. --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 09:44, 11 January 2017 (UTC)


@User:Chiswick Chap, I am addressing you because the anon is imputing a methodology to a belief of Humboldt. This is related to the {{cn}} tags you have been contributing. It appears that we, as editors, are searching for citations about a belief system which is commonly imputed to the current generation of scientists. This is in the domain of philosophy of science, which is implicitly held by most educated people of the past century. I can attest to this from my own training and I can add citations for individual authors who share these mainstream beliefs. But there is an opening gap between the mainstream and a group of believers who cling to their own beliefs. In fact the mainstream can demonstrate positive continuity which stretches back thousands of years. This article lists this continuity. But there are some misconceptions which poorly educated believers impute to scientists. Namely, that scientists provide a back-channel to certainty or to authority. It would be irresponsible for scientists to operate under color of authority or certainty; every generation gets to learn this anew, using the methodology we are describing in this article. What I find questionable about Humboldtian science is a belief that Humboldt or Bacon or Feynman, etc., have "a purchase on truth and a lien on the future", to paraphrase Quine. --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 22:44, 11 January 2017 (UTC)

Thank you for thinking to ask me. I minored in HPS many years ago and have occasionally read a little more on the subject, so I don't claim any special expertise here. You seem to be objecting to contributions about Humboldt which suggest his historically recorded (or possibly distorted) philosophy of the scientific method is significant. I don't recall studying that aspect of his work so I wouldn't wish to comment on it, but I note that the "continuity" listed in the article does exactly that thing for Bacon, Galileo, Newton, etc., so it cannot be the thing, the description of a major figure's views on scientific method, which is objectionable. I wonder, therefore, whether the problem is that you feel that the modern belief in "Humboldtism" is effectively WP:FRINGE? After all, every individual's "purchase on truth" is more or less subjective, every scientist's belief in the truth demonstrated by their experiments more or less personal. If your meaning is that Humboldt was a great naturalist but a bit of a romantic, side-issue philosopher of scientific method, I should have thought we could find a reliable source for that and document it properly? Chiswick Chap (talk) 08:43, 12 January 2017 (UTC)
The objections I can think of are:
  1. There is no logical relation between method and romanticism, a philosophical position which seems rooted in literature. But Romanticism is not necessary to have a science: to illustrate, I use an unromantic example -- the concrete building industry, which is well-enough founded in scientific principles that the engineering is repeatable, predictable, and exploitable[1] enough that we are reaching a surprising limit: sand.[1]
  2. Aristotle's empirical approach to his science is rooted in the study of living things, a naturalist viewpoint, appropriately founded in Nature and our Earth (let's call this the Natural tradition). When Humboldt measured with instruments he was not creating new methodology, but only continuing in a tradition that dates back to Ptolemy, Alhazen, Hipparchus, etc., which go beyond the Earth (let's call this the mathematical tradition). Briefly, the mathematics is independent of romanticism. But a reductive method for a science, for example, as in mathematical modelling, can only model partial cause and effect. Loopholes can be found in such models. The only connection I can see for Humboldtian science is our sentimental view of Earth, which is not methodological.
--Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 12:00, 12 January 2017 (UTC)
I'm not sure I follow your thought here. Do you think "Humboldtian science" is mainstream or fringe? Chiswick Chap (talk) 12:13, 12 January 2017 (UTC)
Neither. It's a topic for history of science, but not methodology. --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 12:20, 12 January 2017 (UTC)
Given that Cannon made a specific claim (in the IP's edit), namely that Humboldtian science is "the accurate, measured study of widespread but interconnected real phenomena in order to find a definite law and a dynamical cause."[2] the claim must have a truth-value (somewhere between true and false): it may be right, wrong, or half-right, but it cannot be dismissed as non-existent. If it's even partly right, then "Humboldtian science" belongs here; if Cannon is wrong, then it's fringe. Please choose. Chiswick Chap (talk) 12:31, 12 January 2017 (UTC)
  1. The most brutal view would be that Humboldtian science is now obsolete, but initially well-received. Compare to Epicurus' rules of observation or Aristotle's causes, which are still in use.
  2. An obituary of Cannon records her admission that the book often violated the rules of historical evidence. I would prefer that I not be drawn into black & white dichotomies like this exchange, as it feels disrespectful toward this scholar.[3] --Ancheta Wis   (talk | contribs) 19:15, 12 January 2017 (UTC)
I haven't made any assumptions at all about Cannon, and I'm sorry to hear that she has had to admit being less than historical. However, if Humboldtian science was once thought to be important for scientific method, I'd say the IP was basically right, it deserves at least a minor note in the History of scientific method, with a caveat that it's no longer thought important. Chiswick Chap (talk) 20:08, 12 January 2017 (UTC)