Newbie here- please go easy on me.
Now that I am retired from the world of physics and engineering, I am struggling to come to terms with my career failings. The most spectacular of these occurred when a high-level manager dismissed the validity of 6 months' worth of my work in identifying the root cause of a catastrophic problem in our factories. The "reasoning" behind that dismissal was as follows:
"The existence of your putative model describing the physical mechanism behind the quality collapse occurring in production lines (a, b, c, d...) cannot in and of itself disprove the existence of a completely different model that assigns root cause to a portion of the factory under the control of someone other than my people.
"Since it then is possible that the real cause of this problem is actually to be found in a part of the factory that you did not search, you have furnished us with no basis upon which to believe that your model is correct, and until you do, we will take no action on it.
Her viewpoint carried the day, my model was dismissed, and no action was taken. The problem came and went on its own over the next ten years (!!!) of production, until the affected product line was declared obsolescent and shut down.
In retrospect, it appears that she pulled the underdetermination trick on me, and to defeat it via exhaustion would have required more years than remained in my career. So, she won, and I lost. Here then is my question for this community:
The excuse-by-underdetermination, or inexhaustion, or unconceived alternatives, appears to be so powerful a technique as to dismiss upon its invocation the validity of any model at all, and thereby justify inaction in any possible set of circumstances. How is it possible to refute it, and thereby make progress towards the solution of problems in the real world (restricted here to mean the factory floor of a globally-distributed manufacturing enterprise where one minute of productive downtime costs tens of thousands of dollars)?