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The Blindness of Scientists: The Problem isn’t False Positives, It’s Undetected Positives

Posted Sep 10 2013 12:00am

Suppose you have a car that can only turn right. Someone says, Your car turns right too much. You might wonder why they don’t see the bigger problem (can’t turn left).

This happens in science today. People complain about how well the car turns right, failing to notice (or at least say) it can’t turn left. Just as a car should turn both right and left, scientists should be able to (a) test ideas and (b) generate ideas worth testing. Tests are expensive. To be worth the cost of testing, an idea needs a certain plausibility. In my experience, few scientists have clear ideas about how to generate ideas plausible enough to test. The topic is not covered in any statistics text I have seen the same books that spend many pages on to how to test ideas.

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