Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Confirming Theories

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Oct 13, 2010

Responding to x28's New Blog.

Interesting points. So we have three possible sources of the multiplicity of theories:
- belief one's own learning style is universal
- study bias
- pressure to publish

This is probably a good case, though it should indeed be supported observationally.

How would this be supported observationally? There are two approaches:

1. Conduct a study, asking people how they reach their theories, bolstered by redactive accounts of theories proposed in the literature. This is the usual method.

2. Put the idea out there, and ask whether it accords with other people's experience. In a network of sufficient breadth and diversity, if it reflects most people's experience, it may be said to be supported observationally.
I think that it is interesting that, if we follow the second approach to theory identification and confirmation, we are less likely to result in a multiplicity of theories, since the theories produced by the three possible sources will accord with only a small number of people's experiences, while deeper theories will be more universally experienced.


(p.s. this is obviously much too superficial an account of how we confirm theories, and is intended as an overview only)

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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