The hypothetico-deductive method, as currently taught, confuses students and distorts their understanding of science. Part of the confusion arises because the dualistic approach of the hypothetico-deductive method conflicts with the inherent probabilism that underlies much of scientific methodology. I identify four weaknesses in the current approach to teaching students how researchers do science. First, most texts and many instructors tend to ignore the early, interesting, and often time-consuming stages of scientific methodology. Second, the hypothetico-deductive method uses counterintuitive logic to describe the relationship between hypotheses and predictions. Third, most null hypotheses are artificial constructs that tend to distance students from their initial biological questions. Finally, educators present an inconsistent message when they teach science as probabilistic and hypothesis testing as dualistic. I suggest a more holistic approach that identifies avoidable pitfalls and preserves the essential ingredients of the hypothetico-deductive method, while removing some of the arcane inaccuracies.
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Vol. 57 • No. 9