In a 1964 paper in the journal Science, Joseph Platt argued that the reason some scientific fields progressed rapidly while others found themselves stagnant was whether or not they used what he called strong inference. The three steps of this process are:
  1. Devising alternative hypotheses;
  2. Devising a crucial experiment to exclude at least one of these with any outcome; and
  3. Carrying out the experiment to get a clean result.
Platt claimed that the rapid progress that molecular biology was experiencing at that time was due to the adherence of its practitioners to the principles of strong inference. In particular, he cited the logical structure apparent in the work of molecular biologists like Seymour Benzer and Joshua Lederberg.

The reference is: Platt, J.R. 1964. Strong inference. Science. 146:347-353.

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