Einstein writes, on same page number i.e. 56 in third paragraph:
This idea remains in ancient philosophy nothing more than an ingenious
figment of the imagination. Laws of nature relating subsequent events
were unknown to the Greeks. Science connecting theory and experiment
really began with the work of Galileo. We have followed the initial
clues leading to the laws of motion. Throughout two hundred years of
scientific research force and matter were the underlying concepts in
all endeavors to understand nature.....
From this paragraph I think it is correct to think that Einstein says that the science really began with the works of Great Galileo. So to Einstein science doesn't only consists in forming hypothesis but also testing them to check if they are true or not.
So What Einstein really meant to say was that, Greeks formed hypothesis but they didn't test them, at least rigorously with controlled experiments. What Greeks did was not science, Science consists in inventing ideas but also testing them, rigorously. So science really began with Galileo, he invented ideas(of inertia, acceleration etc.) and tested them as well.
In his book Physics, Aristotle, you can clearly see that Aristotle doesn't focuses on controlled experimentation, if he thinks that a idea is wrong he tries to refute them by reason with some "common experience"(not = to experiment, experiments yield special experience which is not common to all men hence "special") he doesn't perform experiments to refute them, but science cant proceed with "common experience" and reason alone, it need experimentation.
According to Bacon:
' Ille enim prius decreverat, neque experientiam ad constituenda decreta
et axiomata rite consuluit; sed postquam pro arbitrio suo decrevisset, experientiam ad
sua placita tortam circumducit et captivam; ut hoc etiam nomine magis accusandus sit,
quam sectatores ejus moderni (scholasticorum philosophorum genus) qui experientiam
Also did you knew that Aristotle believed that women have fewer teeth than men! Now he could have checked this(he had I think 2 wives) but he didn't. See this (2nd topic, 3rd line for a desktop), this and this.
Now If Aristotle, one of the greatest of all philosophers, didn't focus on controlled experiments then is it probable to think that Thales, Anaximander.... the first western philosophers tested their ideas? Obviously no! They didn't.
If they had focused experiments then as you state they couldn't have gave ineffectual theories.
But even if their theories are ineffectual, we should praise them for what they did. They were great Philosophers not Scientist, but they tried to achieve Scientific knowledge with philosophic method. This was there biggest mistake.
Mortimer J. Adler writes(18th paragraph from bottom):
[.......] there was in antiquity no clear line between philosophy, on the one hand, and either science or religion, on the other. The ancients did not clearly and explicitly separate questions that cannot be answered without investigation from questions that cannot possibly be answered by investigation. As a consequence of this, Aristotle treated, as if they were properly philosophical questions, questions that can be properly answered only by investigative science -- questions about the nature and motions of the heavenly bodies; questions about the nature, number, and operation of the human senses; questions about the elementary forms of matter; questions about the species of living things, their order, relation, and origin.[......]
[......] He did not separate -- and, in his day, probably could not have separated -- these two modes of inquiry in which he engaged, as we, looking back at him, can retrospectively separate his efforts at scientific inquiry from his lines of philosophical thought.
This, then, is one of the misfortunes of philosophy in antiquity: by virtue of the inchoate togetherness of science and philosophy,
philosophy took upon itself a burden that it could not discharge --
the burden of answering questions that did not properly belong in its
domain. We can see the particular sciences -- such as physics,
astronomy, chemistry, physiology, and zoology -- in the womb of
Philosophy is, historically, their mother; but they have not yet broken away from her and established themselves as branches of a
separate autonomous discipline, the discipline of investigative
science. Until this happens -- and it does not begin to happen until
the seventeenth century -- they constitute a burden and a distraction
to philosophy; worse than that, the errors which philosophers make in
unwittingly trying to deal with matter that properly belong to science
insidiously affect their treatment of matters that are properly their
[.....]This misfortune, at the very beginning of philosophy's history, plagues it throughout its history, not only in antiquity, but also in the Middle Ages and in modern times.
Extra, which I think will make the answer more understandable.
What is method of philosophy?
The method of philosophy, like that of science, employs observation and reflection, which is to say, data and theories. Both involve sense-experience and reasoning. But the philosopher, like the mathematician, does not need any more experience than is available to every man by the ordinary use of his senses while awake. Just as the mathematician is properly an arm-chair thinker, so is the philosopher. It would be just as absurd for a philosopher to conduct an empirical investigation to obtain special or additional data in order to solve his problems, as it would be for a mathematician to do so.
Yet the philosopher differs from the mathematician in that he must appeal to the ordinary experience of mankind as supplying the evidence, available to every one, in support of the theories he advances. In this respect, he is like the empirical scientist rather than the mathematician; but where the scientist must always go beyond ordinary experience and by his methods of re. search obtain "scientific data" to support his conclusions, the philosopher needs no special "philosophical data," nor has he any method of obtaining them.