Scientists' Responses to Anomalous Data: Evidence from Psychology, History, and Philosophy of Science

This paper presents an analysis of the forms of response that scientists make when confronted with anomalous data. We postulate that there are seven ways in which an individual who currently holds a theory can respond to anomalous data: (1) ignore the data; (2) reject the data; (3) exclude the data from the domain of the current theory; (4) hold the data in abeyance; (5) reinterpret the data; (6) make peripheral changes to the current theory; or (7) change the theory. We analyze psychological experiments and cases from the history of science to support this proposal. Implications for the philosophy of science are discussed.
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