Scientific methods

January 17, 2003

Nick Petford in his review of Plate Tectonics: An Insider's History of the Modern Theory of the Earth (Books, THES , January 3) writes of sociological theories that "claim that hypothesis testing lies at the heart of scientific method".

Could he be referring to the claim of philosopher Karl Popper about what constitutes "good" science?

The sociology of science is about what actually happens in science. Sociologists have had a great difficulty finding Popperian examples because scientists invariably spend their time trying to confirm hypotheses and theories.

Ken Regelous
Kilgetty, Pembrokeshire

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