Open Access
August 2000 Scientific Method, Statistical Method and the Speed of Light
R. J. MacKay, R. W. Oldford
Statist. Sci. 15(3): 254-278 (August 2000). DOI: 10.1214/ss/1009212817


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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R. J. MacKay. R. W. Oldford. "Scientific Method, Statistical Method and the Speed of Light." Statist. Sci. 15 (3) 254 - 278, August 2000.


Published: August 2000
First available in Project Euclid: 24 December 2001

zbMATH: 1059.62507
MathSciNet: MR1847825
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1214/ss/1009212817

Keywords: history of science , philosophy of science , scientific method , speed of light , Statistical method

Rights: Copyright © 2000 Institute of Mathematical Statistics

Vol.15 • No. 3 • August 2000
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