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Myths and Over-Simplifications in Software Engineering

Author(s): Magne Jørgensen

Journal: Lecture Notes on Software Engineering
ISSN 2301-3559

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 7;
Date: 2013;
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Keywords: Confirmation bias | evidence-based softwareengineering | myths | over-simplifications

The software engineering discipline containsnumerous myths and over-simplifications. Some of them maybe harmless, but others may hamper evidence-based practicesand contribute to a fashion- and myth-based softwareengineering discipline. In this article we give examples ofsoftware engineering myths and over-simplifications anddiscuss how they are created and spread. One essentialmechanism of the creation and spread of myths andover-simplifications are, we argue, people’s tendency towardssearching for confirming and neglecting disconfirming evidence.We report from a study examining this tendency. The studydemonstrated that the developers who believed in a positiveeffect of agile methods tended to interpret randomly generated(neutral) project data as evidence confirming the benefit of agilemethods. For the purpose of supporting evidence-basedpractice and avoiding unwanted influence from myths andover-simplifications, we provide a checklist to be used toevaluate the validity of software engineering claims.
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