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Scientists are often [[Scientific skepticism|skeptical]] of theories that rely on frequent, unsupported adjustments to sustain them. This is because, if a theorist so chooses, there is no limit to the number of ''ad hoc'' hypotheses that they could add. Thus the theory becomes more and more complex, but is never falsified. This is often at a cost to the theory's [[predictive power]], however.<ref name="Stanovich2007"/> ''Ad hoc'' hypotheses are often characteristic of [[pseudoscientific]] subjects.<ref>Carroll, Robert T. "Ad hoc hypothesis." ''The Skeptic's Dictionary''. 22 Jun. 2008 <http://skepdic.com/adhoc.html>.</ref>
 
Scientists are often [[Scientific skepticism|skeptical]] of theories that rely on frequent, unsupported adjustments to sustain them. This is because, if a theorist so chooses, there is no limit to the number of ''ad hoc'' hypotheses that they could add. Thus the theory becomes more and more complex, but is never falsified. This is often at a cost to the theory's [[predictive power]], however.<ref name="Stanovich2007"/> ''Ad hoc'' hypotheses are often characteristic of [[pseudoscientific]] subjects.<ref>Carroll, Robert T. "Ad hoc hypothesis." ''The Skeptic's Dictionary''. 22 Jun. 2008 <http://skepdic.com/adhoc.html>.</ref>
   
Note that an ''ad hoc'' hypothesis is not necessarily incorrect; in some cases, a minor change to a theory was all that was necessary. For example, [[Albert Einstein]]'s addition of the [[cosmological constant]] to [[general relativity]] in order to allow a [[static universe]] was ''ad hoc''. Although he later referred to it as his "greatest blunder", it may correspond to theories of [[dark energy]].<ref>
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Note that an ''ad hoc'' hypothesis is not necessarily incorrect; in some cases, a minor change to a theory was all that was necessary.
Texas A&M University. "Einstein's Biggest Blunder? Dark Energy May Be Consistent With Cosmological Constant." ''ScienceDaily'' 28 November 2007. 22 June 2008 <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071127142128.htm>.</ref>
 
   
 
Naturally, some gaps in knowledge, and even falsifying observations must be temporarily tolerated while research continues. To temper ''ad hoc'' hypothesizing in science, common practice includes [[Falsifiability#Falsificationism|falsificationism]] (somewhat in the philosophy of [[Occam's razor]]). Falsificationism means scientists become more likely to reject a theory as it becomes increasingly burdened by ignored falsifying observations and ''ad hoc'' hypotheses.
 
Naturally, some gaps in knowledge, and even falsifying observations must be temporarily tolerated while research continues. To temper ''ad hoc'' hypothesizing in science, common practice includes [[Falsifiability#Falsificationism|falsificationism]] (somewhat in the philosophy of [[Occam's razor]]). Falsificationism means scientists become more likely to reject a theory as it becomes increasingly burdened by ignored falsifying observations and ''ad hoc'' hypotheses.

Latest revision as of 12:53, September 14, 2012

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In science and philosophy, an ad hoc hypothesis is a hypothesis added to a theory in order to save it from being falsified. Ad hoc hypothesizing is compensating for anomalies not anticipated by the theory in its unmodified form.

In the scientific communityEdit

Scientists are often skeptical of theories that rely on frequent, unsupported adjustments to sustain them. This is because, if a theorist so chooses, there is no limit to the number of ad hoc hypotheses that they could add. Thus the theory becomes more and more complex, but is never falsified. This is often at a cost to the theory's predictive power, however.[1] Ad hoc hypotheses are often characteristic of pseudoscientific subjects.[2]

Note that an ad hoc hypothesis is not necessarily incorrect; in some cases, a minor change to a theory was all that was necessary.

Naturally, some gaps in knowledge, and even falsifying observations must be temporarily tolerated while research continues. To temper ad hoc hypothesizing in science, common practice includes falsificationism (somewhat in the philosophy of Occam's razor). Falsificationism means scientists become more likely to reject a theory as it becomes increasingly burdened by ignored falsifying observations and ad hoc hypotheses.

See also Edit

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Stanovich, Keith E. (2007). How to Think Straight About Psychology. Boston: Pearson Education. Pages 19-33
  2. Carroll, Robert T. "Ad hoc hypothesis." The Skeptic's Dictionary. 22 Jun. 2008 <http://skepdic.com/adhoc.html>.


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