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Myth of Scientific Method

Sir Peter Medawar was Director of Britain’s National Institute for Medical Research from 1962 to 1971 and he was a Nobel Prize winner. In The Limits of Science (p.16-17), he refutes the idea of a neat and orderly scientific method by which scientists come to discover truth. He says: "I go along with the opinion of William Whewell, Bertrand Russell and Karl Popper that scientists do not make their discoveries by induction or by the practice of any other one method. ‘The’ Scientific method is therefore illusory. ‘An art of discovery is not possible,’ said William Whewell, and more than a century later we can say with equal confidence that there is no such thing as a calculus of discovery or a schedule of rules by following which we are conducted to a truth…

"But why do scientists like to think—as Darwin certainly did—that they proceed by induction? It can only be because the myth of induction is that which accords best with the self-image a scientist may have formed of himself: as a regular, straightforward, plain-thinking man of facts and calculations—someone very different from a philosopher, a poet fellow or an imaginative writer… The truth is that there is no such thing as ‘scientific inference.’ A scientist commands a dozen different stratagems of inquiry in his approximation to the truth…"