Is science an evolutionay process? Evidence from miscitation of the scientific literature

Perspectives on Science 8 (1):53-69 (2000)
Abstract
: This article describes a psychological test of Hull's (1988) theory of science as an evolutionary process by seeing if it can account for how scientists sometimes remember and cite the scientific literature. The conceptual adequacy of Hull's theory was evaluated by comparing it to Bartlett's (1932) seminal theory of human remembering. Bartlett found that remembering is an active, reconstructive process driven by a schema that biases recall in the direction of proto- typicality and personal involvement. This account supports Hull's theory of science because it shows that the characteristics of reconstructive remembering are consistent with the generic properties of an evolutionary process. The empirical adequacy of Hull's theory was evaluated by comparing the predictions made from this evolutionary viewpoint against evidence from the history of science. Six cases studies of well-known psychological experiments that had been subject to repeated miscitation errors were collected and reviewed. All six case studies revealed a systematic pattern of distortions that is consistent with the schema-induced biases of reconstructive remembering. These findings support Hull's claim that science is an evolutionary process with scientists as interactors, scientific beliefs as replicators, and schemata as means for that replication
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