How Many Hypotheses Fail Before You Check Your Theory?

Read this very fascinating article.

Late last year, the animal evolutionary tree quaked at its root. A team led by Joseph Ryan, an evolutionary biologist who splits his time between the National Genome Research Institute in Bethesda, Md. and the Sars International Center for Marine Molecular Biology in Bergen, Norway, analyzed the genome from a comb jelly,  Mnemiopsis leidyi, a complex marine predator with muscles, nerves, a rudimentary brain, and bioluminescence, and found that the animals may have originated before simple sponges, which lack all of those features.

You might make a note of how many times their entire hypothesis turned out to be wrong and had to be completely revised.  Nothing wrong with that, hypotheses are meant to be revised.  But at what point do you notice that our hypotheses are so wrong it seems to indicate you have a fundamentally flawed understanding about something further back?  And how is it that no matter how many times you are dead wrong in your guesses about how something happened, you never question your assumptions about what your first guess, which is conjecture and assumptions and has never been witnessed, that the event and process you imagine even  happened in the first place?

 

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One Comment

  1. Cindy
    Posted April 5, 2017 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Checking the theory would be most uncomfortable, given the fact that there seems to be only one alternative, and that one will get you laughed out of a job. To paraphrase, because I can never remember the exact words, it’s mighty hard to convince a man of something that runs contrary to his financial interests. Social interests, as well.

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