[extropy-chat] Fwd: Are vaccinations useless? was Re: Failure of low-fat diet

Hal Finney hal at finney.org
Sat Mar 11 08:15:24 UTC 2006

Samantha writes:
> I believe it is up to the proponent of a new hypothesis to show that  
> their idea covers the relevant observations before the new hypothesis  
> is worth much scrutiny from others.  It is not up to others to prove  
> it incorrect.  This is reminiscent of asking atheists to prove their  
> isn't a god.  You know better than this.

Who gets to decide which hypothesis gets the benefit of the doubt as
the established belief, and which has the burden of proof expected of
a new idea?

Consider the question of whether advances in health and longevity are
largely due or are not due to medicine.  Should we use the common-sense
answer of yes, and demand that someone who argues otherwise take up
the burden of proof?  Or should we use the accepted answer in the public
health field of no, and demand that proponents of medicine's effectiveness
prove it?

Which is the null hypothesis, and which is the one we test?

I would say that we should use the ideas from the scientific community
as our basis, over beliefs of the average person, where they disagree.
This is true not only on this question, but on such other controversies
as evolution, global warming, effects of international trade, etc.


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