In the next Perspectives on Science seminar, Sofia Blanco Sequeiros (University of Helsinki) and Samuli Reijula (University of Helsinki) will give a talk titled “Explaining evidential discordance.”

The seminar takes place in person at Metsätalo and online via Zoom from 14:15 to 15:45 on Monday the 15th of January 2024. To join the seminar, please contact for the location or Zoom invitation.

Perspectives on Science is a research seminar which brings together experts from the philosophy of science and several fields of science studies. It is organized by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar can be found on the TINT web page


Successful replication is a hallmark of scientific truth. Discordant evidence refers to the situation where findings from different studies of the same phenomenon do not agree. Although evidential discordance can spur scientific discovery, it also gives scientists a reason to rationally disagree and thereby compromises the formation of scientific consensus. Discordance indicates that facts about the phenomenon of interest remain unsettled and that a finding may not be reliably replicable. We single out persistent evidential discordance as a particularly difficult problem for the epistemology of science, and distinguish between different causes of evidential discordance – non-systematic error, noise, and bias. Unlike discordance brought about by non-systematic error or noise, persistent discordance often cannot be rationally resolved by temporarily suspending judgment and collecting more data within existing lines of inquiry. We suggest that the analysis of enriched lines of evidence (Boyd 2018) provides a useful approach to diagnosing and evaluating episodes of evidential discordance. Attention to the line of evidence, which extends from raw data to an evidential claim supporting or disconfirming a hypothesis, can help researchers to localize the source of discordance between inconsistent findings. We argue that reference to metadata, information about how the data were generated and processed, is key to resolving normative questions of correctness, i.e., whether a line of evidence provides a legitimate answer to a particular research question. We illustrate our argument with two cases: the alleged discovery of gravitational waves in the late 1960s, and the social priming controversy in experimental psychology.

Author bios:

Sofia Blanco Sequeiros is a PhD-student at the University of Helsinki. She works on questions concerning scientific evidence and methodology and the science-policy interface.

Samuli Reijula is an Academy of Finland research fellow and a university lecturer in theoretical philosophy at the University of Helsinki, Finland. His area of expertise is the philosophy of science, with interests in cognitive science and science studies (incl. science of science). His research interests include collective problem solving, cognitive diversity, science policy, and foundations of evidence-based policy.