Inductive reasoning: From observation to theory
Inductive reasoning involves looking for a trend or a pattern, then using the observations to formulate a general truth. For example, "When I eat peanuts, my throat swells up and I have difficulty breathing. Therefore, I'm likely allergic to peanuts."
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According to the Falsification Principle of Karl Popper, we cannot prove the validity of a hypothesis. We can only disprove it.
However, we can get closer to the truth by improving our knowledge, using inductive or deductive reasoning. Both are based on evidence, but provide different ways of evaluating the facts.
Deductive reasoning starts from established facts, then applies logical steps to reach a conclusion. For example, "Bachelors are unmarried men. Jack is unmarried. Therefore, Jack is a bachelor."
Depending on the nature of the task, inductive and deductive reasoning can be used in combination.
Researchers use inductive reasoning to formulate theories and hypotheses. Then they use deductive reasoning for evaluating their theories in specific situations.
Philosophers have struggled with the question "What is truth?" from the dawn of time.
The current theory of truth among the public and scientists is that truth corresponds with facts and reality. Many scientists would add that the scientific method is the central system for determining facts and the best tool to find the truth.
Sherlock Holmes observed facts without being judgmental. He would construct a hypothesis about what he believed happened. He would then search for more evidence to logically validate his initial statements. The detective deconstructed what happened — piece by piece.
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