On Science / by Nathan Jones

Hypotheses and Falsifiability according to Karl Popper

  • It’s easy to find confirmations of nearly any theory – if all we look for are confirmations.
  • Confirmations of a theory should count only if they are the result of risky predictions, and if they appear despite genuine efforts to refute the theory.
  • No number of confirmations of a theory is sufficiently large to prove it, but only a single refutation is sufficient to disprove it.
  • Every good scientific theory is a prohibition, i.e., it forbids certain things from happening. The more it forbids, the better it is.
  • A theory that is not refutable by any conceivable experiment is non-scientific. Irrefutability is not a virtue; it is a vice.  
  • The strict criterion for a theory being scientific is falsifiability (not that it is false, but that it can be proven to be false.

Nathan's Addenda

  • If two competing hypotheses cannot be distinguished by any conceivable experiment, then they are scientifically equivalent.
  • We can come no closer to the truth than our own imaginations will allow.