Advanced Search

Browse by Discipline

Scientific Societies

E-print Alerts

Add E-prints

E-print Network

  Advanced Search  

Valentin Amrhein Could you ever "prove" a hypothesis?

Valentin Amrhein
Could you ever "prove" a hypothesis?
No. If thousand experiments find support for a hypothesis, this does
not mean that it is necessarily true.
One single experiment that is eventually finding clear evidence against
the hypothesis would make a revision of the hypothesis necessary.
Hypotheses cannot be proven, but they can be falsified.
Karl Popper (1902-1994) was the first to point out that
a good hypothesis is one that is capable of rejection.
A good hypothesis is a falsifiable hypothesis.
Thus, science advances by falsifying hypotheses.
Which of the following hypotheses would be easier to falsify?
1. There are vultures on the Petersplatz.
2. There are no vultures on the Petersplatz.
If you go to the Petersplatz and do not find a vulture,
does this mean hypothesis 1. is wrong?
No, because the vulture might just have hidden behind a tree.
However, the first time you see a vulture, hypothesis 2. is clearly
wrong, so it is falsified and you can reject it.


Source: Amrhein, Valentin - Zoologisches Institut, Universitšt Basel


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology