The Loyal Opposition: A Commentary on "Opportunities and Challenges in the Study of Biosocial Dynamics in Healthy Aging

Publication Year


Book Chapter
Exceptions are interesting: They make us ask “why?” Why is this case different? From a scientific perspective—at least in principle—we start with a theory or empirical generalization, and seek to reject it; too often, however, as researchers we seek evidence to confirm our hypotheses. It's only when we find enough exceptions that we feel compelled to reject the rule or significantly amend it. Kahneman (2011, p. 81), as always, makes the point regarding “a deliberate search for confirming evidence, known as positive test strategy,” with elegance and parsimony: “Contrary to the rules of philosophers of science, who advise testing hypotheses by trying to disprove them, people (and scientists, quite often) seek data that are likely to be compatible with the beliefs they currently hold.”
Book Title
National Research Council New Directions in the Sociology of Aging
The National Academies Press
Washington, DC