Acarina, pycnogonids, Permian ticks?

Kirk Fitzhugh kfitzhug at NHM.ORG
Thu Apr 19 11:30:02 CDT 2001

At 01:35 PM 4/19/01 -0400, you wrote:
His conclusion was that the
>essential factor is the testability of the hypothesis, not its origin. He
>was extremely skeptical of the value of induction.We may feel that a
>hypothesis that is formed from a rich base of data may
>have a greater chance of being useful, but such a feeling ultimately is
>irrelevant. Can the hypothesis be tested, and does it pass rigorous tests?
>That is the only important question. One of the values of this insight is
>the recognition that the process of hypothesis formulation is often a very
>creative and/or serendipitous process.

Popper was only skeptical in the sense that enumerative induction was not
to be considered a means of judging hypotheses and theories, in response to
Hume's "problem of induction." The problem with Popper is that he wanted to
relegate all of the arena of hypothesis formation to the level of
psychologism, which immediately removes most of cladistics from the realm
of science since most of what we do is devise, non-deductively, sets of
causal hypotheses. Popper is in the minority among philosophers on this
point. While there might be some creative/serendipitous aspects to some
hypothesis formation (Darwin's reading of Malthus is a good example), much
of it does follow far more rigorous rules grounded in the relevant covering
theories. There is no real creativity in the inference of cladistic
hypotheses, which is not the same as the questionable creativity used my
many to justify some of the methods!

I won't comment on the immense difficulties that actually exist in the
actual testing of historical hypotheses by the criteria mandated by Popper
(interested parties should read his "Poverty of Historicism," chapter IV,
and "The Open Society and Its Enemies," chapter 25, for the testing of
historical hypotheses).


"A logic that tends toward answers and
neglects the questions is a false logic."

Collingwood (1939)

Kirk Fitzhugh, Ph.D.
Associate Curator of Polychaetes
Research & Collections Branch
Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
900 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90007
Phone:   213-763-3233
FAX:     213-746-2999
e-mail:  kfitzhug at

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