Re: Pasteur quote

From: Gordon Simons (gsimons@email.unc.edu)
Date: Sat Dec 29 2001 - 14:31:17 EST

  • Next message: Walter Hicks: "Re: Pasteur quote"

    To my comments:

    > Based on this, most astronomers are not scientists. I guess it
    > depends on what one means by "experimentation." Most statisticians
    > distinguish between "observational studies" and "controlled
    > experiments." The latter permits the use of Pasteur's word "prove."
    > But, strictly speaking, the former does not.

    Burgy responds:

    > Possibly. I see astronomers experimenting the same way anthropologists
    > and geologist experiment. While one cannot "run the universe twice,"
    > all can posit a theory and then look for data to confirm/disconfirm.
    > I'd call this experimentation.

    As useful as this kind of activity is, what you describe here is a good
    example of an observational study. The fact of prior positing a theory,
    with confirming data, certainly adds strength to the activity. Still the
    difference between observational studies and controlled experiments is
    quite important when it comes to drawing conclusions. In this regard, you
    might have a look at the first two (short) chapters of the excellent
    elementary textbook entitled _Statistics_ by Freedman, Pisani and Purves:
    http://www.wwnorton.com/college/math/stats/stats.htm.



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