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Tag: causality

Inspiring scientific concepts

EDGE asks 159 selected intellectuals What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit? You are welcome to read the individual contributions which range from a paragraph to a short essay here. Many of the entries are truly inspiring but I see little synergy of bringing 159 of them together. Like in a group photo of beauty pageant contenders, the total appeal of the group photo is less than sum of the individual attractiveness of its subjects. But to my point: It is remarkable that so many of the answers (on my count, in excess of 30) deal, more or less directly, with causal inference. What is even more remarkable is that most of the concepts and ideas about causal inference mentioned by the worlds’ intellectual jet-set (no offense to those left out) are anything but new. Many of the ideas can be traced back to Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1934) and Ronald Fisher’s The Design of Experiments (1935). So what is most remarkable of all is how long it takes for these ideas to sink-in and diffuse in society. Several posts focus on the Popperian requirement for falsifiability¬†(Howard Gardner, Tania Lombrozo) and skeptical empiricism more generally (Gerald Holton). The scientific method is further evoked by Richard Dawkins on the double-blind control experiment¬†(see also Roger Schank), Brian Knutson on replicability, and Kevin Kelly the virtues of negative results. Mark Henderson advocates the use of the scientific method outside science¬†(e.g. policy) – a plea that strikes a chord with this…