How can scientists decide between competing hypotheses?
Develop your response with specific examples and counter arguments.
p.s. In terms of counter arguments here, you are not likely going to present ‘yes vs no’ arguments, but are more likely to demonstrate how one or more of the possible criteria for choosing between hypotheses are not completely satisfactory or at least problematic.
In terms of demonstrating the validity of a hypothesis, scientists often believe in the nature of science. They do not explain the exact reasons that caused something to happen as they think that things are just how they are and they believe that science is fully based on facts. Therefore, scientists rely on general theories and laws to support their observations in relation to the hypothesis, which is problematic as there is no practical evidence to show why they choose a specific hypothesis over another in a specific experiment.
Confirmation bias is a kind of cognitive bias that scientists might have when they are to find evidence that aligns with their beliefs, which is subjective as they are not open-minded while collecting data or making observations. They also prefer the simpler theory when there are two or more theories that make the same predictions, which is called the principle of simplicity, in terms of deciding between competing hypotheses. These phenomena are caused by background assumptions, which means that scientists create hypothesis based off their beliefs, which could possibly be wrong. To go more in-depth, the principle of simplicity is largely caused by aesthetics as it has been proven that people love seeing things organized in a way that is clear and easy to perceive. Thus, scientists have the habit of choosing the simpler theory than a more complicated one, resulting in systemic error of inductive reasoning and loses the meaning of being fair in an experiment. However, it is same as how scientists believe in the ‘nature of science’, meaning that there is no reason at all behind the a particular theory and instead they just say that those are ‘facts’. For example, according to the video about Occam’s Razor, it is a algorithmic method used to decide which tree of gene sequences is the ‘best’. Usually, the sequence that has the fewest stages would be considered to be the ‘best’ in the scientific world. This relates to the theory of simplicity, suggesting that scientists tend to believe that the easier version is ultimately the most correct one.