Friday, July 26, 2013

Falsification: looking for evidence to disprove the theory

As we often times get asked questions in court that are posed in the context of research science, many are confused by the term Falsification. In the context of research science, it means looking for evidence to disprove the theory.

De Vaus notes, "As well as evaluating and eliminating alternative explanations we should rigorously evaluate our own theories. Rather than asking 'What evidence would constitute support for the theory?', ask 'What evidence would convince me that the theory is wrong?' It is not difficult to find evidence consistent with a theory. It is much tougher for a theory to survive the test of people trying to disprove it." (De Vaus, 2001).

"... falsificationism stresses the ambiguity of confirmation . . . corroboration gives only the comfort that the theory has been tested and survived the test, that even after the most impressive corroborations of predictions it has only achieved the status of 'not yet disconfirmed'. This . . . is far from the status of 'being true'." (Cook and Campbell, 1979)

If you are offering "technician level" testimony, I performed this workflow using these tools ... and offering the court no opinion, you'll likely not get any questions related to falsification. But, if you are offing your opinion, your theory, then be prepared for this line of enquiry. Being prepared starts with knowing what they're asking.

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