Why can’t scientific hypotheses be conclusively confirmed
no hypothesis can ever be conclusively confirmed or disconfirmed
No hypothesis can ever be conclusively confirmed
In this paper we employ a theoretical methodology that is quite different from that which is currently standard in the experimental literature. Although the model is heavily based on experimental findings in cognitive psychology and brain science, there is only qualitative consistency with experiments. Rather, there are a large number of hypotheses derived from an unusual computational model of cognition, the IDA/GW model. The model is unusual in two significant ways. First, it functionally integrates a particularly broad swath of cognitive faculties. Second, it does not predict numerical data from experiments, but rather, is implemented as a software agent, IDA, that performs a real-world personnel task for the US Navy. The IDA/GW model generates hypotheses about human cognition by way of its design, the mechanisms of its modules, their interaction, and its performance. All of these hypotheses are, in principle, testable. With the advent of more sophisticated brain and behavioral assessment methods, some earlier hypotheses in this research program have been confirmed (Baars, 2002). We expect the current set of hypotheses to become directly testable with continuing improvements in cognitive neuroscience.
Scientific theories, for him, are not inductively inferredfrom experience, nor is scientific experimentation carried out with aview to verifying or finally establishing the truth of theories;rather, all knowledge is provisional, conjectural,hypothetical—we can never finally prove our scientifictheories, we can merely (provisionally) confirm or (conclusively)refute them; hence at any given time we have to choose between thepotentially infinite number of theories which will explain the set ofphenomena under investigation.
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It is senseless to favor a certain hypothesis – senseless according to our still valid scientific paradigm – when no confirming measured data can be shown to support it. One can occupy himself with a hypothesis, put it at the center of his research, and even have complete faith in it. However one cannot use it as a basis for taking rational action without first having confirmed measurements. In summary: If we cannot observe any unusual climate activity since 1850 compared to the times before that, then we have no choice but to assume natural climate change.”
He accordingly asserts that basic statementsthemselves are open-ended hypotheses: they have a certain causalrelationship with experience, but they are not determined byexperience, and they cannot be verified or confirmed by experience.
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