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What is the principle of falsification?

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Shariq Ali

What is the principle of falsification?

Introduced by philosopher Karl Popper, is a cornerstone of scientific methodology. Let’s break it down with an analogy.

Imagine you have a jar full of marbles, and you propose a theory: “All marbles in this jar are red.” In science, for a theory to be considered scientific, it must be testable. That means there should be a way to prove it wrong if it’s not true. This is where falsification comes in.

Falsification is the process of testing a theory with the aim of disproving it. It’s like trying to find a marble in the jar that is not red. If you find even one marble of a different color, your theory is disproved or falsified.

In science, a theory is considered stronger not when it accumulates confirmations (finding red marbles), but when it survives attempts to falsify it (not finding any marble of a different color despite searching thoroughly). This principle is important because it encourages scientists to develop theories that can be rigorously and objectively tested, and to discard theories that don’t hold up to scrutiny.

This approach helps in distinguishing scientific theories from non-scientific ones. A theory that can’t be falsified (like saying “there are invisible and undetectable marbles in the jar”) is not considered scientific because there’s no way to test it.

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