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June 15, 1912


Author Affiliations

George Higginson Professor of Physiology in Harvard University BOSTON

JAMA. 1912;LVIII(24):1829-1837. doi:10.1001/jama.1912.04260060178002

OBSERVATION AND EXPERIMENTATION  Two ways are open to us for obtaining a knowledge of Nature: We may merely watch natural events as they occur, or we may arrange conditions so that the events will appear or disappear, or be modified, as we may wish. For example, the growth of wheat we may study carefully in different native surroundings, or we may place the wheat where we can at will examine the effect on it of heat and cold, sunlight and darkness, wind, gravity, drought and the chemicals of the soil, as these various agencies affect its growth and productiveness. The former method is purely observational, the latter is experimental. The experimental method, in which the conditions to be observed are under control, is, in the main, the distinguishing procedure of modern science.There is nothing mysterious about experimentation. The method implies first that study of natural events suggests certain explanations

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