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Revisiting Chamberlin: multiple working hypotheses for the 21st century


Elliott, LP and Brook, BW, Revisiting Chamberlin: multiple working hypotheses for the 21st century, Bioscience, 57, (7) pp. 608-614. ISSN 0006-3568 (2007) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2007 American Institute of Biological Sciences

DOI: doi:10.1641/B570708


The method of multiple working hypotheses, developed by the 19th-century geologist T. C. Chamberlin, is an important philosophical contribution to the domain of hypothesis construction in science. Indeed, the concept is particularly pertinent to recent debate over the relative merits of two different statistical paradigms: null hypothesis testing and model selection. The theoretical foundations of model selection are often poorly understood by practitioners of null hypothesis testing, and even many proponents of Chamberlin's method may not fully appreciate its historical basis. We contend that the core of Chamberlin's message, communicated over a century ago, has often been forgotten or misrepresented. Therefore, we revisit his ideas in light of modern developments. The original source has great value to contemporary ecology and many related disciplines, communicating thoughtful consideration of both complexity and causality and providing hard-earned wisdom applicable to this new age of uncertainty.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Bayesian statistics, hypothesis testing, model selection, philosophy of science, statistical significance
Research Division:Information and Computing Sciences
Research Group:Library and information studies
Research Field:Informetrics
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences
UTAS Author:Brook, BW (Professor Barry Brook)
ID Code:116309
Year Published:2007
Web of Science® Times Cited:53
Deposited By:Biological Sciences
Deposited On:2017-05-04
Last Modified:2017-09-04

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