As a student of the history of medicine, it has always been especially irritating to me to hear Francis Bacon’s name heralded as the Father of Experimental Science. Literally hundreds of physicians had applied the experimental method in its perfect form to many problems in medicine and surgery during at least three centuries or more before Bacon’s time. They did not need to have the principles of it set forth for them by this publicist, who knew how to write about scientific method, but did not know how to apply it, so far as we know anything about him; and who was utterly unable to see the great discoveries that had been made by the experimental method in the century before his time, and refused to accept such great advances in science as were made by Copernicus and others. Some two score of years before Bacon wrote, in England itself, the great Gilbert of Colchester, who was elected the president of the Royal College of Physicians for the year 1600, and who was physician-in-ordinary to Queen Elizabeth, had applied the experimental method to such good purpose that he well deserves the title that has been conferred upon him of Father of Electricity.

James J. Walsh, The Popes and Science (1908)


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