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Are hypotheses needed in science?

  1. Apr 20, 2007 #1
    Let's use the phrase "on the basis of":

    Gather information and resources "on the basis of" the definition of the question.
    Form a hypothesis "on the basis of" the information and resources.
    Perform an experiment and collect data "on the basis of" the hypothesis.
    Analyze data "on the basis of" the experiment.
    Interpret the data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point of new hypotheses "on the basis of" analytical data.
    Publish results "on the basis of" interpreted data.

    Why not start off with:
    [blue]Gather information and resources "on the basis of" the definition of the question.[/blue]
    [red]Perform an experiment and collect data "on the basis of" information and resources.[/red]

    Why is a hypothesis needed?

    Data [blue]before the experiment[/blue] and [red]after the experiment[/red] are important, but this is not why a hypothesis is needed.

    Additionally, I believe that "problems" are easier to generate when they can be solved and therefore are better formulated after an experiment. Einsteins approach was in this manner. It was not necessary to start with a problem but rather what he needed to do is create the problem, by taking some assumptions at his disposal, such as the constant speed of light, and determining its consequences, by which he could create a relevant question arrive at a conclusion.

    Are hypotheses really needed in experiments? Should problems be put aside until after an experiment? By making problems first in experiments, aren't we biasing the observations?


    In fact, what I have learned just now is that my approach to writing this post was a similar fashion (questions were at the end). (I got the title of this thread after looking at some material ealier on and going through a similar process.) Is this approach peculiar to me? Or is this closer to how science actually works than the scientific method is?
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 24, 2007 #2


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    Because you can't properly design an experiment without an hypothesis. If you don't know what you're trying to test, you don't know what controls to include, what experimental groups to include, and it's not an experiment.

    You can collect data without an hypothesis, but then that falls under the first part, gathering information and resources, which help you formulate your hypothesis. Data gathered without an hypothesis-driven experimental design will only be observational or correlational, and usually interpretation is difficult if not impossible.
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