The Method of Multiple Working Hypotheses

It will be observed that the distinction [between hypothesis and theory] is not such as to prevent a working hypothesis from gliding with the utmost ease into a ruling theory. Affection may as easily cling about a beloved intellectual child when named as a hypothesis as if named a theory, and its establishment in the one guise may become a ruling passion very much as in the other. The historical antecedents and the moral atmosphere associated with the working hypothesis lend some good influence however toward the preservation of its integrity. Conscientiously followed, the method of the working hypothesis is an incalculable advance upon the method of the ruling theory; but it has some serious defects. One of these takes concrete form, as just noted, in the ease with which the hypothesis becomes a controlling idea. To avoid this grave danger, the method of multiple working hypotheses is urged. It differs from the simple working hypothesis in that it distributes the effort and divides the affections... In developing the multiple hypotheses, the effort is to bring up into view every rational exploration of the phenomenon in hand and to develop every tenable hypothesis relative to its nature, cause or origin, and to give to all of these as impartially as possible a working form and a due place in the investigation. The investigator thus becomes the parent of a family of hypotheses; and by his parental relations to all is morally forbidden to fasten his affections unduly upon anyone. In the very nature of the case, the chief danger that springs from affection is counteracted.


By maintaining many hypotheses, the scientist does not fall in love with one over the others and fall into the trap of confirmation bias.

Folksonomies: hypothesis confirmation bias

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Scientific method (0.983576): dbpedia | freebase
Hypothesis (0.970257): dbpedia | freebase
Observation (0.736115): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Love (0.694107): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Theory (0.577300): dbpedia | freebase
Experiment (0.549781): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Working hypothesis (0.519452): dbpedia | freebase

 Studies for Students. The Method of Multiple Working Hypotheses
Periodicals>Journal Article:  Chamberlin, Thomas Chrowder (1897), Studies for Students. The Method of Multiple Working Hypotheses, Journal of Geology, 1897, 842-3., Retrieved on 2012-01-30
Folksonomies: hypotheses