Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Are doctors scientists?

There is a process called the scientific method which is what scientists use. It is not based on deductive reasoning, which starts with one or more facts or suppositions and builds on them to form a conclusion. Nor is it based on inductive reasoning, which assembles all possible facts which are then analyzed to reach a conclusion. Scientists know that there are so many potential datapoints or experiments that can be done that it is inefficient and time consuming. So, they use the facts that they have to build a hypothesis, then carry out an experiment to confirm or refute it. If the latter occurs, they form a new hypothesis based on the new learning and test again, thus narrowing down to the correct conclusion or theory.

How often do we hear a doctor say, "I don't think that is likely, but let's test to rule it out?" This is the opposite of the scientific method and is dangerous. If you do not suffer in the way you are testing for, any positive result is likely to be a false positive. Testing should begin with the most likely. This suggests that doctors do not think like scientists.