Falsifiability

Definition:

Falsifiability — A statement/claim/hypothesis is falsifiable if it is possible to disprove it. If a theory cannot be falsified, then there is no point even looking examining evidence.

The natural tendency is to put forward a hypothesis and look for evidence to confirm it or induce conclusions from observational data.

Falsifiability is looking at it the other way around, looking for examples that contradict the theory. If the theory resists multiple attempts at contradiction, it’s a good working hypothesis of truth.

Example:

Ask the question “What would be an example of something that, if observed, would contradict the hypothesis?”

Hypothesis — All swans are white

Traditional Approach — Look for white swans to confirm that swans are white

Falsifiability Approach — Look for non-white swans to disprove the hypothesis. (i.e., finding one black nullifies the hypothesis that all swans are white)

Why is it important: 

Using the falsifiability approach provides a more comprehensive understanding of how to structure and run experiments. Although falsifiability is not universally accepted and it has its critics, the concept is still a foundation of most modern scientific experiments.

Karl Popper is credited with disseminating falsificationism as a philosophy of science in the mid 20th century. Popper’s view on science was guided by his use of formal logic. Since there was no way to arrive at the undeniability of a conclusion through induction (going from particulars to a more general principles), Popper theorized that the answer lie in using deductive reasoning (arriving at particular through general principles) and falsifiability. That is, we can always use negative evidence to contradict a statement, but positive evidence does not lead to the conclusion that the general case is always true.

“A million successful experiments cannot prove a theory correct, but one failed experiment can prove a theory wrong.” – Karl Popper

Applications:

Falsifiability is applicable in any area seeking knowledge or truth through empirical evidence.

Science

Most scientific tests today are based on the falsifiability principle.

Personal Life: 

Instead of looking for signs that someone loves you, look for signs that they don’t.

Sources & Suggested Reading:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s