The dipsy-doodle

Schunn and his colleagues were interested in how scientists deal with unexpected results, or anomalies. In one study, he videotaped two astronomers interacting over a new set of data concerning the formation of ring galaxies. Schunn found that these researchers noticed anomalies as much as expected results, but paid more attention to the anomalies. The researchers developed hypotheses about the anomalies and elaborated on them visually, whereas they used theory to elaborate on expected results. When the two astronomers discussed the anomalies, they used terms like ‘the funky thing’ and ‘the dipsy-doodle’, staying at a perceptual rather than a theoretical level. Schunn’s astronomers were working neither in the hypothesis nor experimental space; instead, they were working in a space of possible visualizations dependent on their domain-specific experience.

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