Golden events and statistics: What's wrong with Galison's image/logic distinction?

Perspectives on Science 7 (2):196-230 (1999)
Abstract
: Peter Galison has recently claimed that twentieth-century microphysics has been pursued by two distinct experimental traditions--the image tradition and the logic tradition--that have only recently merged into a hybrid tradition. According to Galison, the two traditions employ fundamentally different forms of experimental argument, with the logic tradition using statistical arguments, while the image tradition strives for non-statistical demonstrations based on compelling ("golden") single events. I show that discoveries in both traditions have employed the same statistical form of argument, even when basing discovery claims on single, golden events. Where Galison sees an epistemic divide between two communities that can only be bridged by a creole- or pidgin-like "interlanguage," there is in fact a shared commitment to a statistical form of experimental argument
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