The Matter of Facts by Leng Gareth; Leng Rhodri Ivor; & Rhodri Ivor Leng

The Matter of Facts by Leng Gareth; Leng Rhodri Ivor; & Rhodri Ivor Leng

Author:Leng, Gareth; Leng, Rhodri Ivor; & Rhodri Ivor Leng [Leng, Gareth & Leng, Rhodri Ivor]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: MIT Press

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Scientists who seek to extend the work of others will often begin by reproducing previous findings, and may mention these efforts in their papers. But if they fail to reproduce earlier findings, their natural response may be to move to another question. The failure to reproduce an outcome might speak of many things—of technical competence, or of unconsidered confounds in the experimental conditions—and excluding these possibilities can be a long commitment with the prospect of little return. Moreover, as shown in chapter 4, the refutation of a hypothesis is not a cause for celebration, but for disappointment. The papers that destroy a hypothesis are not likely to be cited.

Thus, there is there little joy to be had in destroying a cherished idea. However, this seldom arises: to destroy a cherished idea takes exceptional effort once it has taken root. Once an idea has a broad base of empirical support, has been endorsed by numerous authorities, and has found its way into reviews with “fact-like” status, it can be very hard to dislodge. Strong structural forces lead to the dogmatic persistence of some notions and to the neglect of inconvenient evidence.


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