[ RadSafe ] Article: No to Negative Data

John Jacobus crispy_bird at yahoo.com
Fri Sep 5 07:04:08 CDT 2008

I think we are talking about two different types of analysis below.  I cannot comment about how data is usually analyzed in your field or what data you are specifically refering to, so bear with me as I am going to give a loose interpretation of hypothesis.
In the first case, what was your hypothesis when you were analyzing the data?  It appears that you had the idea (hypothesis) that analyzing the data in a different way, turning it sideways(?) would lead to the discovery of new deposts and disproved the conclusions of others.  If you did indeed found new, overlooked deposits, then your hypothesis at looking at the data in a different way validated your hypothesis.  If new deposits were not found, would you "publish" that fact that your hypothesis (analysis) was wrong?  Would you propose another type of analysis (hypothesis) of these "dry holes?"  
Also, your discovery of the Siebenthal article validated the "hypothesis" that data could be gleaned from other sources besides those taken in the field, which concluded that no deposits existed.  If this article did not lead to your new discovery, would you have reported that the Siebenthal article was wrong, or would you have looked into other sources?

-- John
John Jacobus, MS
Certified Health Physicist
e-mail: crispy_bird at yahoo.com

--- On Thu, 9/4/08, Dan W McCarn <hotgreenchile at gmail.com> wrote:

From: Dan W McCarn <hotgreenchile at gmail.com>
Subject: RE: [ RadSafe ] Article: No to Negative Data
To: crispy_bird at yahoo.com, "'radsafe'" <radsafe at radlab.nl>
Date: Thursday, September 4, 2008, 2:19 AM

<<A negative result does not support any specific idea, but only tells you
what isn't right.  Well, only a small number of potential hypotheses are
correct, but essentially an infinite number of ideas are not correct.>>

Dear John:

Hogwash! Whose paradigms do you live with?  Can there be multiple paradigms
for which data are applicable?  Can different sets of hypotheses be
developed for each paradigm?

Any scientist focused on placing a structure around empirical observations
is faced with this dilemma - I have taken data from thousands of dry oil &
gas exploration wells (very negative results for an O&G paradigm) turned it
sideways and gained understanding about where I might explore for uranium (a
very different paradigm).  I have worked on databases that incorporate
complex information from almost 100,000 boreholes, most of them essentially
"dry" holes, to provide an integrated approach to management of these

<< Although publishing a negative result could potentially save other
scientists from repeating an unproductive line of investigation, the
likelihood is exceeding small. >>

Again Hogwash!

Please don't let me interfere with your ideas or Dr. Wiley's here, but
critical mineral deposit discoveries - as well as oil and gas - are based on
what might previously have been considered negative data, observations meant
to prove or disprove one or another hypothesis in a different paradigm, or
simply observational data for which the answers still lie shrouded (the
exploration budget ran dry) until the right mind comes along, adds a piece
or two of additional data and understands the order a little better.  I can
start with the uranium deposits at Ambrosia Lakes as well as deposits in the
Gas Hills in Wyoming.  These were not discovered until a different paradigm
was applied to the old data.

I had the fortune once to explore a major basin in Southern Colorado that
was long thought devoid of uranium, until I found an ancient publication
(Siebenthal, 1910) whose careful and detailed observations allowed me to
conceptually integrate the data that I had, and understand the major
features and processes controlling uranium mineralization in the basin and
to identify a major target. As my boss said, "Thank God your
because I had to overcome the mindsets and preconceptions of every other
geologist in the office.

Perhaps in my industry, sharing of negative results is considered so
extremely important that a side-industry has long-since emerged to
successively insure future exploration efforts don't re-invent the wheel by
providing these "negative" data.

Maybe the geological sciences learned early-on that exploration was an
open-ended venture where no one had a complete understanding of what the
future might bring. Since most exploration produces negative results (except
for the value of the empirical data), geologists must be and are eternally
optimistic about future chances (and different paradigms, not just
hypotheses) and their results are maintained for the next effort.
Pessimistic geologists never find anything!

Dan ii

Dan W. McCarn, Geologist; 3118 Pebble Lake Drive; Sugar Land, TX 77479; USA 
Home: +1-281-903-7667; Austria-cell:  +43-676-725-6622
HotGreenChile at gmail.com   UConcentrate at gmail.com

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl [mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl] On Behalf
Of John Jacobus
Sent: Wednesday, September 03, 2008 8:48 PM
To: radsafe
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Article: No to Negative Data

I read this article some time ago.  While the subject matter is orientated
toward the life sciences, I think the topic is valid through science.
 THE SCIENTIST Volume 22 | Issue 4 | Page 39 

No to Negative DataWhy I believe findings that disprove a hypothesis are
largely not worth publishing.

. . .


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