Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hypotheses are overrated   posted by p-ter @ 12/20/2007 06:26:00 PM

So says the European Journal of Human Genetics, in response to the flood of data from genome-wide association studies and other genomic data in the field of human genetics:
[O]ne might maliciously wonder if we are not (temporarily, in this field and pending subsequent functional studies) close to the ultimate consumption date of the Popperian approach of hypothesis-driven research. For was not a main goal of this to unravel the truth in the most efficient, that is, plausible way, faced with a daunting scarcity of collectible data? Well, if it becomes cheaper to just collect all data required than to run after a hundred consecutive, plausible, but wrong hypotheses, starting with a hypothesis becomes an economic futility. The hypothesis as a guiding principle is then replaced by a truism: if one does not throw away anything before thoroughly assessing its irrelevance, one will always find what one is looking for.