Statistical Science

Scientific Method, Statistical Method and the Speed of Light

R. J. MacKay and R. W. Oldford

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What is “statistical method”? Is it the same as “scientific method”? This paper answers the first question by specifying the elements and procedures common to all statistical investigations and organizing these into a single structure. This structure is illustrated by careful examination of the first scientific study on the speed of light carried out by A. A. Michelson in 1879. Our answer to the second question is negative. To understand this a history on the speed of light up to the time of Michelson’s study is presented. The larger history and the details of a single study allow us to place the method of statistics within the larger context of science.

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Statist. Sci., Volume 15, Number 3 (2000), 254-278.

First available in Project Euclid: 24 December 2001

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Statistical method scientific method speed of light philosophy of science history of science


MacKay, R. J.; Oldford, R. W. Scientific Method, Statistical Method and the Speed of Light. Statist. Sci. 15 (2000), no. 3, 254--278. doi:10.1214/ss/1009212817.

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