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Mon, Feb 29
Virtual fossils may hold keys to understanding human evolution
‘Seeing is believing’, as the saying goes, and so empirical data are the lifeblood of science and the scientific method. Science progresses by winnowing out those hypotheses or theories that fail under increasingly large amounts of data; favoured hypotheses stand up to the largest, most diverse sets of data and are said to have ‘high explanatory power’. Imagine, then, what would happen if each time a new study was done, the researchers had to rely on different, small datasets created using different data-collection protocols. How surprising would it be if the results of each study favoured different hypotheses? How difficult would it be for the scientific community to judge which hypotheses had the greater explanatory power?