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In the deductive approach, experimental psychologist use a theory to
predict data. (We'll do this with the integrative buffer theory
in a moment). Predictions (or hypotheses) are used
to test the theory. Empirical observation (i.e., data)
either confirm or disconfirm a hypotheses; in other words,
the theory, by specifying hypotheses, will either predict the data from
an experiment or it will not.
According to Popper (1961), a philosopher of science, experimental data
that confirm a hypothesis is not to be taken as confirmation of
the truth of a theory. This is because many theories could,
potentially, account for the data--not just the one currently being tested.
The best that science can do, argues Popper, is dis-confirm or dis-prove
theories. In short, this philosophical position claims that we can
never really know how some aspect of the universe works--we can only know
how it doesn't work. This is what we (you! acutally)
will do with the integrative buffer theory.
We're going to first come up with some hypotheses, design a quick experiment,
run the experiment, and then see if the data confirm the hypotheses.
If they do, then we know that an integrative visual buffer could be one
way the our brains encode and represent complex visual information--but
other theoies (which we haven't discussed) could also account for
how we see the world. So--as you can see--support for a theory isn't
all that helpful. What is decisive is a dis-confirmation!
If a hypothesis derived from the integrative visual buffer theory is not
supported by the data, then we know that the integrative
buffer theory is wrong--we won't know how the brain really constructs
a smooth and continuous perception of the visual world as we move our eyes,
but at least we'll know it isn't using an integrative