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Philosophy 203: Scientific Reasoning
Explanatory Criteria for EMFs and Cancer

The Method of Evaluating Scientific Explanations is briefly outlined for the following example taken from K. Schmidt, "Fickle fields; EMFs and epidemiology, Science News (November 9, 1991), 357.

Evaluating Scientific Explanations

Hypothesis:  H1 -- Strength, fluctuation, and direction of electromagnetic fields are associated with cancer.

Relevance:  OK

If H1 is true, then C [children living in LA near power lines will have higher cancer rates].
C
is true.
Therefore,  H1  is confirmed.

Difficulty: could be accidental correlation.

Testability Compatibility with Previous Hypothesis:   OK

Savitz (NC) Denver study.
Three other Denver studies.
Unnamed other studies.

Difficulty: uncontrolled variables

Predictive or Explanatory Power:  OK

Extend testing to other appliances emitting electromagnetic fields

Difficulty: data inconsistent.

Simplicity:  OK

Possibility of excluding other factors:  diet, education, location, and so forth.

Difficulty: no simple concomitant variation or method of agreement or joint methods.

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