Can Experiments Be Wrong?





I recently found this link to a talk on Unexpected Science by psychology professor Kevin Dunbar. I was a little concerned at the start of the talk when Dunbar said that about half of experiments turn out wrong. I recently tweeted the following:

 Almost fell into pet peeve. Wrote experiment “didn’t work”.

Technically expt worked fine, just didn’t see magnitude of effect wanted to see

I don’t think unexpected results aren’t “wrong” or necessarily mean that an experiment didn’t work. Perhaps my opinion is why I enjoyed the rest of Dunbar’s talk. The main topics he covers include:

  • the use of analogies to explain unexpected results,
  • significance of the type of analogy in developing a response,
  • impact of the diversity of disciplines on risk tolerance and
  • the reaction of the brain the storing expected vs. unexpected results.

I’ll be adding PopTech to my list of places to go for interesting videos. In case you haven’t bookmarked it yet, TED Talks are also a great resource.


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