Scientific Method John Snow, William Research Paper

Length: 4 pages Sources: 7 Subject: Disease Type: Research Paper Paper: #42127502 Related Topics: Scientific Method, Epidemiology, Surveillance, Assessment Methods

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Snow, in contrast to Farr's epidemiology, was far more innovative and spontaneous in his methods, which also made his conclusions, in the eyes of his colleagues more suspect. As well as doing his own hands-on research, Snow analyzed the "natural experiment created when one water- supply company of London, the Lambeth Company -- but not the Southwark and Vauxhall Company -- moved its water inlet to a less polluted area of the Thames. Snow's hypothesis was that if cholera was related to consumption of water contaminated by human excrements, then mortality rates should be greater among those who drank the contaminated water supplied by the Southwark and Vauxhall Company than among those who drank the cleaner water supplied by the Lambeth Company" (Morabia 2001: 224). Determining the exact purity of the water supply at a given point in time, however, was difficult, and made it difficult for Snow's thesis to eliminate other possibilities of causation (Eyler 2001: 227-288).

Thus from the point-of-view of his colleagues at the time, there was some 'sloppiness' to Snow's published methods and his unequivocal claims, in marked contrast to the cleaner, more balanced portrayal provided by Farr. "Snow did not know the number of people at risk of cholera in his test case…he did not even know the number of households supplied by each company in the districts with the mixed water supply" (Eyler 2001: 227). Because the experiment was based upon real-world data, Snow's experimental analysis was not perfectly controlled. There were distinct demographic differences thought to be relevant at the time between the populations using the different water supplies (Eyler 2001: 227). Snow also did not entertain a multifactoral possibility for the spread of disease. On the surface, Farr seemed more balanced and scientifically impartial: Snow was more passionate and less rigorous in his defense of his belief schema.

In defense of Snow's critics, one of the most common criticisms of many scientific experiments is the unwillingness on the part of the researchers to deal with contradictory data that does not support their original hypothesis. Farr's tentativeness made him seem more fair and scientific. Yet while Snow was criticized for subsuming too much evidence to suit his thesis, his critics could and should be equally criticized for subsuming their view of his research to suit their own ideas about how all disease were airborne.

Even if Snow may have been more dogmatic in his presentation,...


For Snow, the purpose was to verify his thesis regarding a public health crisis, not merely the gentlemanly pursuit of discovery (Eyler 2001: 230). Eventually, after more reasoned consideration Farr began to change his mind and concede that waterborne transmission of the ailment was possible (Eyler 2001: 230). But without Snow's dogmatism, it is unlikely that such a view would have gained in popularity -- just as it is true that without Farr's statistics, Snow may not have come up with his thesis. The Snow vs. Farr debate suggests that the world needs both Farrs and Snows -- data-based researchers and as well as passionate, hands-on testers of theories. Both are needed to get to the bottom of disease causation, given the challenges that causality poses to scientific investigators of disease-related phenomena.

Sources Used in Documents:


Dallal, Gerard E. (2008, September 12). Cause and effect. The little handbook of statistical practice. Retrieved August 30, 2010 at

Eyler, J.M. (2001). The changing assessments of John Snow's and William Farr's cholera studies. Soz Praventiv Med, 46 (4): 225-232. Retrieved August 30, 2010 at

Morabia a. (2001). Snow and Farr: A scientific duet. Soz Praventiv Medicine, 46 (4): 223-224.

Retrieved August 30, 2010 at
campaigning statistician. Retrieved August 30, 2010 at from

Cite this Document:

"Scientific Method John Snow William" (2010, August 30) Retrieved September 30, 2023, from

"Scientific Method John Snow William" 30 August 2010. Web.30 September. 2023. <>

"Scientific Method John Snow William", 30 August 2010, Accessed.30 September. 2023,

Related Documents
John Snow Father Epidemiology Pioneering Research Analogy
Words: 1016 Length: 3 Pages Topic: Disease Paper #: 61801428

John Snow father epidemiology pioneering research analogy containment cholera outbreak London 1800's. However, contributor, William Farr, provided substantial information data understanding etiology spread cholera research surveillance John Snow is known as the founder of modern epidemiology. Summarize his works and findings, describing the premise on which his experiments were formulated. How did Snow explain that cholera's first symptoms were abdominal pains? How does his work demonstrate the scientific method? Snow first

Theory-Based Research Eyle, John. Changing
Words: 945 Length: 3 Pages Topic: Disease Paper #: 80790683

On the part of his fellow scientists, Snow's research was resisted because it was conducted with intellectual 'leaps' of logic in his determination to find the cause, as opposed to Farr's more technical and methodological approach. Farr had the more comprehensive health surveillance program, but Snow's hypothesis and instincts were correct. Snow drew upon past studies involving smallpox, cowpox, and syphilis, to extrapolate parallel examples of how the disease

Anesthesia Means Temporary Loss of
Words: 3728 Length: 12 Pages Topic: Health - Nursing Paper #: 12779152

In year 1799 anesthetic properties of Nitric Oxide were discovered by Humphery Davy (1778-1829) he advised that the by using nitric oxide, pain and shock of the surgical procedure can be negated. Third person who continue with Morton and Wells philosophy was Charles T. Jackson. The Fourth man who contributed to anesthetics was Thomas Mortan (Blatner, 2009). In the year 1848 James Simpson used chloroform in obstetric surgery, he

Mold Spore Analysis and Toxicity
Words: 4404 Length: 16 Pages Topic: Disease Paper #: 11291106

Mold Spore Trapping Current Scientific Knowledge People are exposed to aeroallergens in a variety of settings, both at home and at work. Fungi are ubiquitous airborne allergens and are important causes of human diseases, especially in the upper and lower respiratory tracts. These diseases occur in persons of various ages. Airborne spores and other fungi particles are ubiquitous in nonpolar landscapes, especially amongst field crops, and often form the bulk of suspended

Forensic Anthropology in a General
Words: 2469 Length: 8 Pages Topic: Anthropology Paper #: 83210711

He is also recognized as the Killer Clown, due for his enjoyment of entertaining children in a clown outfit. The time the bones were established to be those of human beings, forensic anthropologists Charles Warren and Clyde Snow came in on the investigation and viewed the bones. The anthropologists started organizing and sorting out the bones, inspecting them carefully for any specific structures that may help validate the victims.

Inconvenient Truth Former Vice President
Words: 11687 Length: 40 Pages Topic: Astronomy Paper #: 45554107

The hope, of course, that to the extent possible, both groups will invest themselves, and their money, in the ways that Mr. Gore is going to suggest in the film. The Scientist and Mentors Finally, Mr. Gore shows an image of earth that was made by a friend of his - all of the experts in the film are friends of Mr. Gore. The image was, again, made over a period