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Acts of God and ManRuminations on Risk and Insurance$
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Michael Powers

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231153676

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231153676.001.0001

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Nullifying the Dull Hypothesis

Nullifying the Dull Hypothesis

Conventional Versus Personalized Science

(p.222) 14 Nullifying the Dull Hypothesis
Acts of God and Man

Michael R. Powers

Columbia University Press

The scientific method (SM) is widely touted as the most effective available guide to human understanding. However, it is imprecisely defined and inconsistently implemented. Not only is there no universally accepted method for all scientific disciplines, but also statements of such methods, where they exist, are usually only idealized descriptions of the actual practice of science. This chapter examines the SM as it is commonly practiced. First, it addresses a number of inconsistencies in the way the SM is applied, observing how these inconsistencies may lead researchers to ignore important phenomena, especially when the phenomena are of a subtle and/or transient nature. It then considers issues related to the SM's philosophical foundations, specifically the inefficiency and inertia caused by the SM's collectivist, frequentist orientation. It argues that these problems may be avoided by a more individualist, Bayesian approach.

Keywords:   scientific method, human understanding, Bayesian approach, frequentism, collectivism

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