Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/239

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

geologist rather than a geographer; but he can show his allegiance to his chosen science by making it clear to his hearers as well as to himself that, however much he may delve in the past, his object in doing so is solely in order better to understand the present.

In contrast with the inductive and other methods of presentation, the chief characteristic of the analytical method consists therefore in the candid completeness with which it reveals and discusses the various steps by which the investigator passes from the incomplete conception of his problem, based directly on observable facts, to the complete and comprehensive scheme which he has been led to believe is the true counterpart of the whole enchainment of facts, past and present, involved in his problem. Inductive presentation may lead, as has been shown above, to an understanding of single groups of simple facts, but it can not alone go so far as to reach the fuller meaning of combined groups of complicated facts, many of which are of past occurrence. But for that matter analytical presentation also may stop, on presenting several independent, uncorrelated explanations of separately grouped facts, and thus fail of being as broad and comprehensive as it should be. On the other hand, the desirable goal of analytical investigation and presentation is a well-correlated explanation of all the facts that have come under investigation; that is, a convincingly clear view of so much of their total history as is already past and as bears helpfully on understanding and describing their present condition. It is practically impossible to go so far as this, without adding invention, deduction, comparison, revision and final judgment to the earlier processes of observation and induction.

But there is another advantage possessed by analytical presentation, besides its comprehensiveness. It is well known that a speaker can best commend his work and himself to his hearers by a frank exposition of the reasons that have led him to certain conclusions rather than to others; and there is surely no way in which a clearer and more open exposition of the reasons for belief can be set forth than by presenting, at least in outline, the logical analytical method already described under the account of investigation.

Analytical presentation is moreover particularly to be recommended in preparation for the explanatory as contrasted with the empirical description of land forms; for inasmuch as all explanatory treatment is open to error, it is important not only to take precautions against error during investigation in every possible way, but also to make it plain to one's hearers that these precautions have actually been taken. The speaker should therefore frankly recognize the possibility of error, and then show, by critically analyzing the grounds of belief, that every precaution has been taken to insure its correctness.

During the progress of an analytical presentation, the speaker must take care to show no personal preference for one hypothesis over