*Geek Box: Falsification

*Geek Box: Falsification in Science

What does ‘falsified’ mean in science? The concept originated with Austrian philosopher Karl Popper. In science, nothing is ever proven to be true. Rather, theories are proposed to explain observations in the natural world, and a hypothesis is formed. This hypothesis must be testable scientifically. In order to make it testable, the proposers of the hypothesis must present predictions about their model or theory: these predictions are what make the theory testable, and falsifiable. If any of the predictions are disproven in an experiment, then the theory is falsified. If a prediction is proven, and it can be repeated in subsequent experiments, it may then be accepted as the current paradigm, but is always subject to change or future falsification (hence why nothing is ever “proven to be true”!). Now, while many purists view falsification in black-and-white terms, in reality as we advance in knowledge, a theory may be updated and thus the criteria for falsification changes. But this is an important concept because while no one study ever proves anything in science, one study can disprove – falsify – a hypothesis.