Will it work? How do we know?

Michelle Obama thinks childhood obesity among poor children is the result of nutritional food deserts in low income urban areas.  To solve the problem, she wants to start a government program and spend $400 million.

To many people, the First Lady’s hypothesis sounds reasonable and her good intentions appear admirable.

But that shouldn’t get in the way of realizing that her hypothesis is just that, a hypothesis.   A hypothesis is an unproven possible explanation (“food deserts”) for the observed phenomenon (“childhood obesity”).   Which means it may be wrong.

I’ve seen people charge critics of Michelle’s hypothesis with “hating”, racism (ad hominem fallacies) and questioning whether her intentions are good (red herring fallacy).  None has anything to do with whether her hypothesis is correct.

I learned about hypothesis in my 7th grade science class.  The fact that many in society can’t seem to recognize and differentiate a hypothesis from facts and good intentions is disappointing.

What’s wrong with asking, will it work and how do we know?

If you were investing your own dollars in a new business venture or donating your money to a new charitable venture,  a sensible person would ask these questions and want to see some evidence that the hypothesis is correct.

If Obama is correct, it seems like it would be easy to find Continue reading