Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Spin another hypothesis

The following is based on Carl Sagan's baloney detection kit from his great book - The Demon Haunted World

When deciding on whether to believe an explanation for something, is it the only possible explanation, is it the most likely? Can you think of any other possible reason for it?

Spin another hypothesis - think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. What tests could be done to disprove all the alternative explanations (until you are left with only one)? The hypothesis that survives is the fittest and is most likely the right one (especially when compared to the first explanation that took your fancy). People tend to make up their minds about things very early on and as such, tend to ignore evidence which doesn't fit (Observational Selection).