From James Blachowicz at New York Times:
When a scientist tests a hypothesis and finds that its predictions do not quite match available observations, there is always the option of forcing the hypothesis to fit the data. One can resort to curve-fitting, in which a hypothesis is patched together from different independent pieces, each piece more or less fitting a different part of the data. A tailor for whom fit is everything and style is nothing can make me a suit that will fit like a glove — but as a patchwork with odd random seams everywhere, it will also not look very much like a suit.
The lesson is that it is not just the observed facts that drive a scientist’s theorizing. A scientist would, presumably, no more be caught in a patchwork hypothesis than in a patchwork suit. Science education, however, has persistently relied more on empirical fit as its trump card, perhaps partly to separate science from those dangerous seat-of-the-pants theorizings (including philosophy) that pretend to find their way apart from such evidence. More.
We actually need more observed facts driving science just now. Theory later.
See also: Breaking! Moran does NOT want RS meeting cancelled! If the Royal Society did cancel the meeting now, lots of people would be forced to draw their own conclusions about the way in which the Society is no longer competent to host a serious debate. Most of those people will not be kooks, just people who recognize that at some time this discussion needs to happen. May as well be now.
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