Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A challenging New Year's resolution

I never reported back on how I fared on my New Year's resolution for 2010 (n.b. not 2011):
Spend the first half hour of each day thinking and writing in a notebook about the important science questions I am interested in and want to try and answer. And, specifically coming up with multiple alternative hypotheses and devising ways to distinguish them.
I tried hard but found this very difficult, more than I thought. The tyranny of the urgent often takes over and makes even carving out half an hour at the beginning of each day difficult. Maybe I have done this on 2-3 days per week (on average) over the past two years. However, the multiple alternative hypothesis bit is extremely hard, much harder than just carving out the time. I am hard pressed to think of a single example where I have successfully done this, to the level of actually being able to rule out one alternative hypothesis. On the other hand, I do feel the struggling process is sharpening my scientific thinking.

I welcome others to take up this challenge and let me know how they do! After all, surely this is really what good science is about.

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