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Most Significant

“He gave many flies to one spider and many spiders to one bird, and then wanted a cat to eat the many birds. What would have been his later steps? It would almost be worth while to complete the experiment. It might be done if there were only a sufficient cause.”

However, Seward’s experiment of giving Renfield would have been of little scientific value, as he was studying only one patient. His observations would amount to a case report, which is the least useful type of scientific evidence.
https://thelogicofscience.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/hierarchy-of-evidence2.png

Most Significant

Of course, the above comments are looking at it from a 21st Century point of view about evidence. Some pseudoscientific theories were based on just one case report: chiropractic’s origin was a single patient, while iridology was based on an observation of an owl!

Chiropractic’s roots: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Harvey_Lillard

Iridology origins: https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/pseudoscience-history/looking-iridology

Bryan Alexander

Good point. There's still something of the single-person, romantic, heroic scientist at the time.

Most Significant

Yes, there are lots of examples: Lister, Pasteur, Freud, Bell, Edison — even when they were really running a team of researchers, they were lauded as lone geniuses. It took a few generations before partnerships became a common and accepted model: Banting & Best, Watson & Crick. Even those were (and are) oversimplifications. “Banting and Best” should really be Banting, Best, Macleod, and Collip, while “Watson and Crick” probably should be Watson, Crick, and Franklin.


Bryan Alexander

Exactly. And then things kept getting bigger.

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