chapter  5
21 Pages

Examples of Experimental Physiological Investigation

ByClaude Bernard, Stewart Wolf, Henry Copley Greene

Experimental ideas are often born by chance, with the help of some casual observation. Nothing is more common; and this is really the simplest way of beginning a piece of scientific work. Bacon compares scientific investigation with hunting; the observations that present themselves are the game. It is enough for the author to prove that scientific investigations and experimental ideas may have their birth in almost involuntary chance observations which present themselves either spontaneously or in an experiment made with a different purpose. In sciences as complex and as little developed as physiology, the great principle is therefore to give little heed to hypotheses or theories and always to keep an eye alert to observe everything that appears in every aspect of an experiment. Even mistaken hypotheses and theories are of use in leading to discoveries. This remark is true in all the sciences. The alchemists founded chemistry by pursuing chimerical problems and theories which are false.