Thursday, September 03, 2009

Has NASA Got it Wrong?

The following is a picture describing the scientific method for kids from NASA's SciFiles:
It captures the frustration of things not working pretty well (Do observations and experiments support hypothesis -> No), but it falls short after that. The graphic implies that if data doesn't support your hypothesis, it's the fault of bad experimentation. Worse, it seems to follow that we should only accept observations and results that support our hypotheses. Cherry-picking results is a problem not a solution.

Of course, it is possible that failure to confirm a hypothesis is an experimental problem (though less likely if care is taken in experimental design and execution) but it could also be that they hypothesis is wrong and needs revision.

Perhaps this is too nit-picky for a children's page, but I think NASA can do better.

[h/t: The Geeks' Guide to World Domination]


The Key Question said...

Maybe they have inadvertently revealed the ugly fact that you generally can't publish negative results.

I think you guys will prefer this version -