Monday, February 29, 2016

Science Friday's "Spot the real hypothesis"

Annie Minoff delves into the sins of ad hoc hypotheses using several examples from evolutionary science (including evolutionary psychology). I think this is a fun way to introduce this issue in science and explain WHY a hypothesis is important for good research.

This article provides three ways of conveying that ad hoc hypotheses are bad science.

1) This video of a speaker lecturing about absurd logic behind ad hoc testing (here, evolutionary explanations for the mid-life "spare tire" that many men struggle with).

NOTE: This video is from an annual event at MIT, BAHFest (Bad Ad Hoc Fest) if you want more bad ad hoc hypotheses to share with students.

2) A quiz in which you need to guess which of the ad hoc explanations for an evolutionary finding is the real explanation.

3) A more serious reading to accompany this video is Kerr's HARKing: Hypothesizing after results are known (1998), a comprehensive take down of this practice.