My question is very much contained in the title. Most human behaviours are the object of many hypotheses based in the theory of evolution. Usually an hypothesis will arise as a model that explains a set of observations, and usually they are very smart and have a satisfying quality to them (for me at least).
But is there actually a way of turning them into scientific theories? Or has there been any study or discussion about how to measure their “scientific worth”? (For instance, say, some systematic way of calculating the ratio between the complicatedness of an hypothesis and its explanatory power.)
More concretely, what set me thinking about this is the recent publication of Troubled sleep: Night waking, breastfeeding and parent–offspring conflict by biologist David Haig (and the paper's wide-reaching vulgarisation, often with garish titles such as Study: Babies cry at night to keep parents from having sex), in which the author offers (roughly) that babies keep their parents awake to prevent them from procreating too early.
After quoting the headline to at least 10 friends in one week, and probably because of a recent column about sociologist Murray S. Davis's paper That's interesting! Towards a phenomenology of sociology and a sociology of phenomenology, I thought that this was perhaps too fun to be true and that I had to read the paper.
What I found is a very smart hypothesis based on existing models of intergenerational tradeoffs (e.g. is it more advantageous to make dozens of babies and not be able to care for them or to make only one and dedicate all one's attention to it) and observations about infant mortality in relation with interbirth interval in third-world countries.
But what I did not find is any suggestion about any way in which this hypothesis could be evaluated. So my question could be interpreted in more concrete terms as: Could anything be done to improve Haig's paper in this respect?