Delays, demography and cycles: a forensic study

William Gurney, S.P. Blythe, T.K. Stokes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Strict logic implies that a hypothesis can only be proved wrong, but the main motivation of much science is to find out what is true. In this paper, we argue that the process of intuition building works by extending the classical Popperian paradigm of hypothesis and refutation to include a close relative of the legal concept of “reasonable doubt”. We believe that the way in which doubts are eroded involves building up a consistent picture over a wide ranging body of data-a process akin to the forensic investigations common in the legal process. We illustrate our argument by re-analysing A.J. Nicholson's classical data set on the Australian sheep blowfly Lucilia cuprina. We conclude by discussing the implications of the investigative paradigm we describe for the design of experimental and observational programmes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-144
Number of pages18
JournalAdvances in Ecological Research
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • intuition
  • Popper
  • doubt
  • data set
  • Australian sheep blowfly
  • observational programmes


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