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An Introduction to Critical Thinking and Creativity: Think More, Think Better by Joe Y. F. Lau

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CHAPTER 13

SCIENTIFIC REASONING

Science is regarded as one of the greatest achievements of human beings, alongside art, music, and literature. Technology is a product of science, and it has a huge impact on our lives. But the core of scientific methodology is hypothesis testing, an essential part of critical thinking.

Broadly speaking, hypothesis testing is a matter of gathering evidence to select the best hypothesis. (In this book, a hypothesis is the same as a theory or a claim—a statement that can be either true or false.) But hypothesis testing is not just for scientists. In any type of career, we have to solve problems, and hypothesis testing helps us find the best solutions to our problems. Suppose your mobile phone is not working. Is the battery dead or is the phone broken? You try to recharge it to see if it works. If it does the phone wasn’t broken. This is hypothesis testing. Or think about how to improve your health. What should you eat and what exercises should you do? You need to gather information and evaluate different theories before coming up with a plan. This also involves hypothesis testing.

There are two noteworthy features about hypothesis testing. First, it is based on evidence, not on gut feelings, tradition, popularity, authority, or personal preferences. Second, hypothesis testing is fallible, and it is often difficult to prove that a theory must be correct. Our evidence might be tainted without our knowledge, or perhaps the evidence is inconclusive. This ...

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