“A million successful experiments cannot prove a theory correct, but one failed experiment can prove a theory wrong.”
The above quote has been used ad nauseum, referring the ‘scientific method’ as a strong-headed,cynicalperusal of a preciseknowledge about the working of Mother Nature. The opinion originatesthrough Popper’s description of scientific analysis called “falsificationism”,thus making extrinsic the cause for its overall acceptance and favour among the scientific community generally.
However, considering the quote in its literal sense, the manner in which Karl Popper envisioned renders thepivotal hinge of the concept of falsificationism as an untruthful one. Despite the continued survival of the fragments of the entire idea behind ‘falsification’, the root from which the original rational argument pertaining to scientific discoveries had stemmed struggles to effectively face examination.
Deductive reasoning is one of the more rudimentarykinds of rationalisation. Deductionflags offviaa broad statement of purpose called the ‘hypotheses’. The purpose of a hypotheses is to measureall probabilitiesand arrive at a precise, logically soundinference.
Deduction is employed primarily by the scientific methodfor the purpose of testingtheories. In deductive inference, a specific theory is opted for and forecasts are made as to the consequences stemming out of the said theory. In other words, the resultant observations are forecast on the presupposition that the chosen theory is a valid one (Blagden, 2016).
The roadmap to be followed, in case of deduction,initiates from a very general theory to a muchpinpointed collections of observations. To begin with, there is the need for a proposition, followed by yet another secondary proposition and concluding through an inference.
A most recognizablemethod of deduction is ‘the syllogism’. In this, two testimonials are chosen toarrive at a logical inference. Syllogisms are counted amongthe better waysforensuring if the deductive reasoning holds properfor provingan argument’s validity (Spector, 2017).
To elucidate the above explanation with an illustration, we take two proposals:
1. "All men are temporal.”
2. “Jacob is a man.”
To qualify a deduction ascoherent, the hypothesis itselfneeds to be accurate. Presuming that the two proposals are true, the conclusion which follows, i.e., “Hence, Jacob is temporal" is found to be rational and reasonable. It is pertinent to note that, under deduction, wherea notion is found truthfulwith respect to a group of objects by and large, it holds good for all objects of that group as well.
Inferences arrived at through deduction are definite,with the precondition that the proposals are proper, althoughit isconceivableto attain a rationally-consistentsuppositiondespite the generalization beingfalse, in which case, although the suppositionisrational, it can stillremain untrue.
Inductive reasoning qualifies as an exact antonymagainst deduction. Inductionarrives atsweeping statementsstemming from pinpointeddiscoveries. Simplifying, we begin with data, and follow it withdeductionsarrived at based on the said data (Peirce & Dewey, 2017).
In induction, research traverses from specific to general. Many observations are made and patterns arerecognized.Generalizations are made and in the end an inference as to the explanation or a theory is found. In scientific study, incessant interaction exists among inductive conclusions,which find their basis in observations and deductive inference,based on theory.
To illustrate logical basis of induction,
1. "The coin drawn off the box is a quarter.”
2. “Another coin taken from the box is a quarter.”
3. “The third coin from the box is a quarter.”
4. “Thus, everycoin in the boxis a quarter."
Presuming every one of the proposals in the above illustration to be true, induction gives wayto an inference for not being truthful. An illustration of this statement is:
1. "Ronald is a grandfather.”
2. “Harold is bald.”
3. “Hence, all grandfathers are bald."
The conclusion does not follow logically from the statements.
Induction finds its dedicated positionwithin the bounds of the scientific method.Researchers engage it to discover hypotheses as well as theories. Deduction, however,permitsscientiststhe application of the said theories to particularcircumstances (Bradford, 2017).
To elucidate the stance sided with,consider the example of the ‘Large Hadron Collider’. Subsequent to bringing it up to its maximum power output for the foremost instance, researchers at the French Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN)unsuccessfully attempted the discovery of the Higgs-Boson.
Considering Popper’s theory, it would have been more appropriate for the said scientists to close with the finding that the standard model of quantum mechanics had its position as an untruthful theory,while simultaneously bringing their expedition to a grinding halt.
However, such a course of action would qualify as beingseverelyrushed. Nonetheless, the scientists picked the route where they had to carry on with their experimenttill the time no faults could be creditedto problems with the equipped techniques or apparatus. The pay-off, as is publicly known,was a repayment ofthe grandestscale.
The centralhindrancewith deductionis thatit is a perennialbotch in as much as it will continue remaining unable to spell out anoutlinedcontradiction of a theory. The chancesof a theory beingaccuratewhilstany other aspect of the experiment holds culpability as regards the undesirableresults of the experiment conducted will be ever-present.
In my opinion, Karl Popper might have hit the nail on the head when he suggested that philosophies of science must be exposed to chancyevaluations, although his concept went overboardwith the insistence that science has a distinctly deductive method of eradication.
Going by the argument forwarded by Popper, the quote which marks the beginning of this essayshould instead have been framed like this:
“A million fruitfultrials cannot prove the rightfulness of a theory, althougha singularnegative onebears witness to either the incorrectness of the theory or that an error was committedduring the procedure or alternatively that something of an entirelyunanticipatedtook place.”
Albeit an immeasurablychaotic and perplexingdescription of the scientific process, it represents nature more aptly, since nature on its own isambiguous and paradoxical to quite an extent and therefore,one must not expect human attempts at its exploration to be a majorly tangential version.
Blagden, D. (2016). Induction and deduction in international relations: Squaring the circle between theory and evidence. International Studies Review, 18(2), 195-213.
Bradford, A. (2017). Deductive Reasoning vs. Inductive Reasoning. Retrieved from: https://www.livescience.com/21569-deduction-vs-induction.html
Peirce, C. S., & Dewey, J. (2017). Deduction, induction, and hypothesis. in chance, love, and logic. Abingdon: Routledge.
Spector, P.E. (2017). The Lost Art of Discovery: The case for inductive methods in occupational health science and the broader organizational sciences. Occupational Health Science, 1, 11-27.
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