Historical science

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Historical science aims to describe phenomena of the unobservable past and reconstruct their causes.[1]

Whenever science tries to explain a unique historical event or past phenomena, careful testing and repricability are by definition impossible.[2] Instead, 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.[3][4] Historical scientists commonly use:


  1. 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. 
  2. Michael J.Behe (2006). Darwin’s black box, the biochemical challenge to the evolution. P.X Preface. Free press, 242. ISBN 9780743290319. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 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.” 
  5. John C. Lennox (2009). God's undertaker. Has science buried God?. Oxford, England: Lion Hudson, 204. ISBN 978-0-7459-5371-7. 

See also