Thomas_Leahey

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I Defy the Data!

This is well-recognized issue in philosophy of science, known as the (Pierre) Duhem thesis, that any test of a theory is actually a test of a a conjunction of the theory and the theory of the experiment, and that any resulting disconfirming data might have disconfirmed the theory, the theory of the experiment, or both. The picture turns out to be even more complex, because more than just the theory and the theory of the experiment are tested, but so are background, often nonconscious assumptions, and irrelevant assumptions about statistics. The most detailed technical analysis of theory testing was developed by P. Suppes (1962). Models of data, in Logic, methodology, and philosophy of science (E. Nagel et al., eds., Stanford UP. The proud rejection of data in favor of theory is well attested in history of science, and formed a key part of the neo-Popperian philosophy of Imre Lakatos, e.g. (1970) Criticism and the methology of research programs, in Lakatos & Musgrave (Eds.) Criticism and the growth of knowledge, Cambridge, UP.