How Seductive is the Reductive Allure? Exploring the suggested bias for scientific explanations containing irrelevant reductive information
Abstract: Earlier studies have shown that when assessing explanations of psychological phenomena, there is a bias for explanations including references to neuroscience, even when these references contain logically irrelevant information (Fernandez-Duque, Evans, Christian & Hodges, 2015; M inahan & Siedlecki, 2016; Weisberg, Keil, Goodstein, Rawson and Gray, 2008; Weisberg, Taylor & Hopkins, 2015). Recently, it was suggested that this bias applies to reductive explanations within many sciences, i.e., explanations reducing a phenomenon to more fundamental parts, regardless of explanation logic (Hopkins, Weisberg & Taylor, 2016). The current study expands upon these findings through a methodological improvement, investigating individual preferences for reductive information within social science, psychology and neuroscience. The results did not indicate a bias towards reductive information. However, results and ratings were not consistent across the scientific fields. It was shown that participants were less able to separate a good explanation from a bad explanation for neuroscientific phenomena. The implications of these findings are discussed.
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