Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ The Fundamental Power of Explanation

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

One of the advantages of having a background in the philosophy of science (and, to a degree, in the sciences themselves) is that it puts me in a good position to assess claims that "researchers have found" this or that pertaining to education (mostly, the assessment is that they have found no such thing). This article offers a lucid summary of some of the major elements of scientific explanation (a key concept when evaluating interventions and outcomes). There's a brief digression into quantum explanations, then we get to the good part. "The overwhelming majority of theories, or modifications to theories, that are consistent with existing evidence, are never tested by experiment: they are rejected as bad explanations." What makes a bad explanation? It can't answer the question "how on earth is the theory supposed to work?" There's a lot more to this paper and the insights are sound and consistent with my own experience. Via Metafilter.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Apr 15, 2024 05:51 a.m.

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