Positivism in evolutionary science
James Francis Lyons-Weiler
weiler at ERS.UNR.EDU
Thu Dec 4 06:55:02 CST 1997
On Wed, 3 Dec 1997, Tom DiBenedetto wrote:
> Parsimony is a crucial factor in scientific tests. The corroboration
> of a hypothesis represents the parsimonious explanation for the
> concordance between a prediction and an experimental result. It is
> also a ubiquitous standard to make recourse to as few ad hoc
> supplementary hypotheses as necessary to explain discrepencies
> between predictions and results.
You're making the same mistake others have made in
the relationship between parsimony and corroboration.
In practice, the degree of corroboration afforded
to a hypothesis h increases when it has survived
a critical test T as the hypothesis (1) becomes more outlandlish.
For such hypotheses, the same type of test T represents
greater risk, so, when h survives the test, we are
surprised. The degree of corroboration affored to h
is linked to the degree of surprise. If the hypothesis
is obvious, then the test affords lower corrboration.
What Popper saw as the only link between the degree of
simplicity of a hypothesis and corroboration is often
confused, too. He did not say that simpler hypotheses were,
automatically, better corroborated. He said that they
were, in general, easier to test (i.e., better corroborable),
and that therefore we should examine the simple hypotheses
I don't think your version of the relationship between
parsimony and corrboration is compatible with Popper's.
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