The Nature and Logic of Science: Testing Hypotheses

Part of the Springer Texts in Education book series (SPTE)


The main focus of this chapter is the process of formulating and testing hypotheses. Two basic ways in which hypotheses are tested is by either observations and/or experiments. In both cases the importance of uniformity of conditions and sample size is a central point. Two in-depth case studies, emphasizing the testing of hypotheses by observation, form the core of the chapter: physician John Snow’s mid-nineteenth century investigations into the cause of cholera and the search for the cause of the AIDS epidemic in the latter decades of the twentieth century.


Human Immunodeficiency Virus Acquire Immune Deficiency Syndrome Simian Immunodeficiency Virus Typhoid Fever Plant Seedling 
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Further Reading

On the Process of Science in General

  1. Goldstein, M., & Inge, G. (1978). How do we know? New York: Plenum Press (Contains a number of case studies from many areas of science, illustrating various aspects of how we know what we know. One chapter focuses on Snow’s investigations on cholera.).Google Scholar

On John Snow’s Study of Cholera

  1. Rosenberg, C. (1966). King Cholera. London: Hamish Hamilton (A series of very well-written essays about the cholera epidemics in London in the nineteenth century.).Google Scholar

On Aids and Transmission of HIV

  1. Duesberg, P. (1995). Infectious AIDS: Have we been misled? Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books (Historically speaking this book is interesting because it presents Duesberg’s unorthodox view that AIDS is not a direct result of infection by HIV, but by an unhealthy lifestyle that leads to a breakdown of the immune system, allowing infection by HIV to take hold (see also websites 5 and 6).).Google Scholar
  2. Hooper, E. (1999). The river: A journey to the source of HIV and AIDS. Boston: Little, Brown and Co. (Hooper presents a history of the AIDS epidemic as well as speculations on its possible origins; the author leans toward the infected polio vaccine theory but presents its limitations fairly).Google Scholar
  3. Montagnier, L. (1999). Virus. New York: W.W. Norton (A more biologically oriented discussion of the origin of AIDS, Montagnier’s book contains detailed discussions about how the virus itself infects T-cells and the various drug strategies that have been employed to try and stop it.).Google Scholar
  4. Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). (2011). Global HIV/AIDS response, epidemic update and health sector progress towards universal access (PDF) (A useful website based on the work of UNAIDS, a major world-wide effort to educate people about AIDS and prevent its spread.).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyWashington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Wesleyan UniversityMiddletownUSA

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