In science, it’s easier to disprove a universal hypothesis. You only need to find one counter-example to bust the entire hypothesis. You might hypothesize, “Man-made industrial era carbon emissions are solely responsible for causing global warming.” That is a universal hypothesis because, by identifying a single warming period that occurred prior to industrialization (e.g., the Medieval Warm Period), you can disprove this universal hypothesis.

You might say, “Why not add appropriate hedging language to make it harder to disprove the hypothesis?” A non-universal hypothesis might be: “High carbon levels in the atmosphere may increase global warming.” This wording makes it more difficult to disprove the hypothesis. You can find a period where high carbon levels exist during an Ice Age era (some research suggest this may have been the case), but that does not disprove the hypothesis (since the hypothesis contains the word “may”). In addition, the hypothesis contains no baseline to reference any increase. Failing to see an increase may not disprove the hypothesis because temperatures may have actually been lower if carbon content would have been lower.

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Christopher Carosa

Chris Carosa has been writing a weekly article and monthly column for BenefitsPRO online and BenefitsPRO Magazine since 2011 and is a nationally recognized award-winning writer, researcher and speaker. He’s written seven books, including From Cradle to Retire: The Child IRA; Hey! What’s My Number? – How to Increase the Odds You Will Retire in Comfort; A Pizza The Action: Everything I Ever Learned About Business I Learned By Working in a Pizza Stand at the Erie County Fair; and the widely acclaimed 401(k) Fiduciary Solutions. Carosa is also Chief Contributing Editor of the authoritative trade journal and publisher of the Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel, a weekly community newspaper he founded in 1989. Currently serving as President of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and with more than 1,000 articles published in various publications, he appears regularly in the national media. A “parallel” entrepreneur, he actively runs a handful of businesses, including a small boutique investment adviser, providing hands-on experience for his writing. A trained astrophysicist, he also holds an MBA and has been designated a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor. Share your thoughts and story ideas with him through Facebook ( Twitter (

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