In the course of my research yesterday, I came across this from Colin Clark, in his 1940 book The Conditions of Economic Progress (via an Angus Maddison essay on Clark):
“There is room for two or three economic theorists in each generation, not more. Only men of transcendental powers of reasoning can be candidates for these positions. The rest of us should be economic scientists, content steadily to lay stone on stone in building the structure of organised knowledge”.
The scientific approach he defined as: “Careful systematisation of all observed facts, the framing of hypotheses from these facts, prediction of fresh conclusions on the basis of these hypotheses, and the testing of these conclusions against further observed facts.”
To put this another way, he argued for more inductive than deductive thinking in economics. We’ve had it the other way round, I fear.