Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Born on this Day Prove Them Wrong

Philosopher who set the bar for rigorous scientific method

28 July 2020

Prove Them Wrong

How would you test a new theory about the world? Would you design an experiment to prove it, or to disprove it? Our natural instinct is to seek out confirmation of our ideas, but Karl Popper – a philosopher born on this day in 1902 – insisted that the only scientific way to pursue an idea is to try to falsify it. This approach, contrary to much thinking at the time, became a cornerstone of science, and suggests that the scientific process isn’t so much a pursuit of certainty, as a gradual tiptoe towards truth. By this tenet, scientists must always be willing to have their current beliefs challenged, and their minds changed if evidence proves their theories wrong. This approach, making and critically testing predictions, has led to countless medical advances (and countless more unsuccessful ideas). It may not be the perfect method, but no one has disproved its value yet.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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