The Methodology of the Inexact Sciences


ON the rare occasions when I dip into some book on one of the non-quantitative sciences, such as those which deal with folk-lore, analysis of literary documents, or the human unconscious, I am puzzled and a little scandalised by a canon of logic which appears to be very freely adopted in these branches of thought. It consists in the use of the following argument: “It is possible to work out an analogy between A and B. Therefore A must be the cause of B, or vice versa”. This canon used to be used very freely in the interpretation of sacred writings, and especially of prophecy, but it seems now to have passed over intact into the sciences I have mentioned above.

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HUME, C. The Methodology of the Inexact Sciences. Nature 123, 129–130 (1929).

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