When trying to explain past phenomena, historical scientists try to construct a set of hypotheses about the causes and then look for a so called "smoking gun", a piece of evidence which indicates that one of the hypotheses might be a better explanation than the others. Historical scientists commonly use:
- (i) the type of reasoning named abduction,
- (ii) inference to the best explanation and
- (iii) argument from analogy.
- Laudan, R. (1992). "What's so Special about the Past?", in Nitecki, M.H., and Nitecki, D.V.: History and Evolution. SUNY Press. ISBN 0791412113. Retrieved on 7 February 2010.
- Cleland, C.E. (September 2002). "Methodological and Epistemic Differences between Historical Science and Experimental Science" (PDF). Philosophy of Science 69: 474–496. http://spot.colorado.edu/~cleland/articles/Cleland.PS.Pdf. Retrieved 25.1.2012.
- Meyer, Stephen C. (2008). Signature in the Cell. New York: HarperOne, 150-153. ISBN 978-0-06-147279-2. “Gould ... emphasized that historical scientist tested their theories by evaluating their explanatory power.”
- John C. Lennox (2009). God's undertaker. Has science buried God?. Oxford, England: Lion Hudson, 204. ISBN 978-0-7459-5371-7.