Defense of the Scientific Hypothesis: From Reproducibility Crisis to Big Data

ISBN : 9780190881481

Bradley Alger
456 Pages
156 x 156 mm
Pub date
Nov 2019
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Defense of Scientific Hypothesis: From Reproducibility Crisis to Big Data sets out to explain and defend the scientific hypothesis. Alger's mission is to counteract the misinformation and misunderstanding about the hypothesis that even seasoned scientists have concerning its nature and place in modern science. Most biological scientists receive little or no formal training in scientific thinking. Further, the hypothesis is under attack by critics who claim that it is irrelevant to science. In order to appreciate and evaluate scientific controversies like global climate change, vaccine safety, etc., the public first needs to understand the hypothesis. Defense of Scientific Hypothesis begins by describing and analyzing the scientific hypothesis in depth and examining its relationships to various kinds of science. Alger then guides readers through a review of the hypothesis in the context of the Reproducibility Crisis and presents survey data on how scientists perceive and employ hypotheses. He assesses cognitive factors that influence our ability to use the hypothesis and makes practical and policy recommendations for teaching and learning about it. Finally, Alger considers two possible futures of the hypothesis in science as the Big Data revolution looms: in one scenario, the hypothesis is displaced by the Big Data Mindset that forgoes understanding in favor of correlation and prediction. In the other, robotic science incorporates the hypotheses into mechanized laboratories guided by artificial intelligence. But in his illuminating epilogue, Alger envisions a third way, the Centaur Scientist, a symbiotic relationship between human scientists and computers.


Chapter 1: Philosophical Background Matters
Chapter 2: The Scientific Hypothesis Today
Chapter 3: Critical Rationalism - Common Questions Asked and Answered
Chapter 4: Kinds of Science
Chapter 5: Statistics and Statistical Hypotheses
Chapter 6: Bayesian Basics and the Scientific Hypothesis
Chapter 7: The Reproducibility Crisis
Chapter 8: Advantages of the Hypothesis
Chapter 9: What Scientists Think About Scientific Thinking
Chapter 10: Opponents of the Hypothesis: Stuart Firestein, David J. Glass, and David Deutsch
Chapter 11: Automatic Thinking: Hypotheses, Biases, and Inductive Reasoning
Chapter 12: Thinking Rationally About Heuristics and Biases
Chapter 13: The Hypothesis in Science Education
Chapter 14: How to Improve Your Own Scientific Thinking
Chapter 15: The Future of the Hypothesis: The Big Data Mindset Versus the Robot Scientist

About the author: 

Bradley Alger (AB, UC Berkeley; PhD, Harvard), conducted some of the initial in vitro studies on synaptic plasticity in the brain for his thesis. In 1981, after serving as Roger Nicoll's first postdoctoral fellow at UC San Francisco, Alger was appointed Assistant Professor of Physiology at U Maryland School of Medicine. He did research and taught until becoming Professor Emeritus in 2014. Alger's laboratory published over 100 research articles and made fundamental discoveries regarding the brain's own marijuana. While lecturing on scientific reasoning, he saw the need for a book like this one.

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