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Author Topic:   Working Hypothesis -- what is the value?
RAZD
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Posts: 18864
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 1 of 92 (735409)
08-13-2014 8:05 PM


The process of the scientific method involves starting with an hypothesis and then testing it.

Let us take the Yeti as an example (see YETI nother explanation?) ...

As yet there is questionable evidence that something exists (ie - footprints, reports of sightings), and now there is possible evidence of a bear related distantly to polar bears.

Bears (especially polar bears) tend to be solitary, and hibernate in caves, so this behavior fits the reported patterns of the "yeti" better than an ape (as they tend to live in family groups). White fur would also match polar bears.

So it seems to me that a good "working hypothesis" is that the yeti is a bear ...

... so now we come to the issue of the value of a "working hypothesis" -- what does it do?

Ostensibly it helps to formulate the search parameters for further information\evidence ...

... for those interested in pursuing the matter.

Enjoy


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Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by NoNukes, posted 08-13-2014 11:30 PM RAZD has responded
 Message 4 by Jon, posted 08-14-2014 12:58 AM RAZD has acknowledged this reply
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AdminPhat
Administrator
Posts: 1803
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-03-2004


Message 2 of 92 (735411)
08-13-2014 9:28 PM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the Working Hypothesis -- what is the value? thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
    
NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 3 of 92 (735414)
08-13-2014 11:30 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by RAZD
08-13-2014 8:05 PM


So it seems to me that a good "working hypothesis" is that the yeti is a bear ...

Er, what "yeti" is a bear? Let's say that you confirm the existence of some kind of huge, funky, white bear. Is that the yeti?

In any event, formulating h1 would seem to be the easier part, although I don't think it is as trivial as you are making it. Formulating h0 properly seems most important in studying a yeti that may or may not even exist.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn't learn something from him. Galileo Galilei

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. Frederick Douglass


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by RAZD, posted 08-13-2014 8:05 PM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
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Jon
Inactive Member


Message 4 of 92 (735415)
08-14-2014 12:58 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by RAZD
08-13-2014 8:05 PM


One of these Things is not just like the Other...
I cannot see any value in distinguishing a regular hypothesis from a "working hypothesis" (especially based on your spotty definition of the latter).

As far as I can tell, simply being falsifiable makes all scientific hypotheses "working hypotheses"; they are living and dynamic, capable of being altered or entirely rejected.

As to value, a "working hypothesis" should have the same value as a regular hypothesis in as much as they appear to be the same thing.

Jon

Edited by Jon, : No reason given.


Love your enemies!

This message is a reply to:
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Stile
Member
Posts: 2942
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 3.9


(1)
Message 5 of 92 (735425)
08-14-2014 11:20 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by RAZD
08-13-2014 8:05 PM


Bass Ackward
RAZD writes:

As yet there is questionable evidence that something exists (ie - footprints, reports of sightings), and now there is possible evidence of a bear related distantly to polar bears.

...

So it seems to me that a good "working hypothesis" is that the yeti is a bear ...

I think this is the problem. Right there in your last sentence.

The 'good working hypothesis' is not that the yeti is a bear.
The 'good working hypothesis' is that a bear exists in the area.

Notice how the good working hypothesis doesn't mention a yeti.
That's specifically because there is no evidence as of yet that points towards a yeti.

Science doesn't start with a conclusion and then form hypothesis from it:
"Let's look for a Yeti!!"
"Okay... first hypothesis... a Yeti would leave evidence..."
"We found some evidence... looks like a bear..."
"Next hypothesis... the yeti is a bear...."

This is horrible science. This is creation-science. This is science led by it's pre-made conclusion, not by it's evidence.

Good science goes from the data and moves from there... with no leading-pre-made-conclusion guiding it. Like this:

"Let's look for a Yeti!!"
"Why?"
"Because people say a Yeti exists!!"
"Do we have any evidence?"
"No."
"Okay... first hypothesis is that something might exist... any something would leave evidence, let's go look.
"We found some evidence... looks like a bear..."
"Next hypothesis... a bear exists in the area..."

Notice how "Yeti" is left out of the hypothesis/science portion because there's no evidence for a Yeti.
Once you have actual "Yeti-unique-evidence" (evidence of a new species that is ape/man-ish)... then the evidence will be leading you towards a Yeti and you can start using "Yeti" in your scientific analysis.

Pre-maturely using the word "Yeti" in your science is allowing your pre-made conclusion to lead your work.
Good science lets the evidence lead. If there's no evidence of a Yeti... then there's no mention of a Yeti in the science.


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New Cat's Eye
Member
Posts: 11665
From: near St. Louis
Joined: 01-27-2005
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 6 of 92 (735429)
08-14-2014 12:02 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Stile
08-14-2014 11:20 AM


Re: Bass Ackward
This is horrible science. This is creation-science. This is science led by it's pre-made conclusion, not by it's evidence.

Good science goes from the data and moves from there... with no leading-pre-made-conclusion guiding it.

You can still do good science with a leading pre-made conclusion. It happens when people are trying to invent technologies, or create new drugs.

We use design controls for new product development and a lot of times we'll already know exactly what we want the product to do, we just got to figure out how to get there from here.


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Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by Stile, posted 08-14-2014 2:56 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 2942
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 3.9


Message 7 of 92 (735433)
08-14-2014 2:56 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by New Cat's Eye
08-14-2014 12:02 PM


Re: Bass Ackward
Yeah, I was thinking about this, and I have something not-quite-right.

It should be okay to say something like "I'm looking for evidence of a Yeti..."
That doesn't set off any alarm bells.

There's something wrong with "This is evidence that the yeti is a bear..."
That's not quite right.
Maybe there is a Yeti and you haven't found that evidence yet.

Maybe it's the amount of evidence found?
That is... this is only 1 piece.
If you search for longer and find more and more evidence for a bear in the area, and no evidence for a Yeti... then you can start saying "this is evidence that the 'yeti' was a bear all along..."

There is, however, something wrong with getting stuck on the 'yeti' aspect. At some point, that needs to be dropped or you're not following the evidence.

Building something is a bit different.
You would 'drop the yeti' part by dropping any further development down a certain avenue if you identified that it was taking you away from your design goal.
You would then attempt to 'find the yeti' again by trying something else (possibly new). And you'd be doing testing to see how close you're getting (this would be 'finding unique evidence of the yeti').


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New Cat's Eye
Member
Posts: 11665
From: near St. Louis
Joined: 01-27-2005
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 8 of 92 (735435)
08-14-2014 3:28 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Stile
08-14-2014 2:56 PM


Re: Bass Ackward
If you search for longer and find more and more evidence for a bear in the area, and no evidence for a Yeti... then you can start saying "this is evidence that the 'yeti' was a bear all along..."

That's exactly how I read the OP. "This is evidence that the (thing that is referred to in legends as the) yeti is (actually) a bear (instead)".

Maybe it's the amount of evidence found?

Well, what counts? Does the eye-witness report of a large upright mammal roaming the Himalayas count?

I'd say so. Its not good evidence but its something to work with. It at least points us in a direction.

And if you then find bear fur in the areas of the reports, then I think that can lead us towards a working hypothesis that the thing that was seen, called the yeti, is actually a bear instead.

There is, however, something wrong with getting stuck on the 'yeti' aspect. At some point, that needs to be dropped or you're not following the evidence.

I suppose it depends on what you're trying to do.

If you're trying to figure out what the legends of the yeti stem from, then I wouldn't have a problem with keeping your hypothesis framed around that word.

If you're just trying to find a large mammal in the area, then there's really no reason to bring up the yeti in the first place.

Building something is a bit different.
You would 'drop the yeti' part by dropping any further development down a certain avenue if you identified that it was taking you away from your design goal.

Heh, sometimes the people paying the bills really really want their idea to come to fruition... and they might tell you to keep trying.

You would then attempt to 'find the yeti' again by trying something else (possibly new). And you'd be doing testing to see how close you're getting (this would be 'finding unique evidence of the yeti').

And often we have to tell them: Honestly, you just can't get there from here. We need to start a new route.

They don't like to hear that. lol, I've actually had a customer tell me to "work some magic"... I literally told them that there's no such thing as magic in chemistry. This was a grown-ass man. Desire sometimes outweighs realism.

Ah, but now I'm just rambling...


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 Message 11 by NoNukes, posted 08-15-2014 1:31 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 2942
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 3.9


Message 9 of 92 (735441)
08-15-2014 8:32 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by New Cat's Eye
08-14-2014 3:28 PM


Re: Bass Ackward
Catholic Scientist writes:

I suppose it depends on what you're trying to do.

If you're trying to figure out what the legends of the yeti stem from, then I wouldn't have a problem with keeping your hypothesis framed around that word.

If you're just trying to find a large mammal in the area, then there's really no reason to bring up the yeti in the first place.

Yes, I agree.
There's a fine line in there, somewhere.

One side uses the term "Yeti" just because that's what the locals (or where the initial information) is coming from and they just want to get to the bottom of things (this shouldn't be an issue).
The other side uses the term "Yeti" because they're attached to it and want it to be real and will use anything that could possibly be linked to it in order to push their agenda (which is bad, mmkay).

Perhaps it's an internal decision... you have to identify it in yourself which side of the fence you're on.
One side is scientific, the other is not.
It would only become apparent to others if you're extremely clear about your motives... or once you start pushing either "your agenda" or "the search for truth."


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New Cat's Eye
Member
Posts: 11665
From: near St. Louis
Joined: 01-27-2005
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 10 of 92 (735448)
08-15-2014 12:26 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Stile
08-15-2014 8:32 AM


Re: Bass Ackward
Perhaps it's an internal decision...

Sure, without us having any of the actual data and hypotheses, the only person who really knows your motivation is yourself.

And I do think its that motivation that determines if you're gonna end up doing good science or not.

Edited by Catholic Scientist, : No reason given.


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NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 11 of 92 (735449)
08-15-2014 1:31 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by New Cat's Eye
08-14-2014 3:28 PM


Re: Bass Ackward
And if you then find bear fur in the areas of the reports, then I think that can lead us towards a working hypothesis that the thing that was seen, called the yeti, is actually a bear instead.

There are bears in the Himalayas. There just don't seem to be many polar bears. And of course not all yeti sightings are supposed to be white. I'm not sure that most of them are white.

Where I am going with this, is that there are already plenty of excuses to blame Yeti sightings on bears. What new evidence is likely to be found by following up on RAZD's working hypothesis?

On the other hand, finding an unknown ape/primate would be far more convincing given that some of supposed Yeti sightings are definitely not easily attributable to something bear like. I'm not recommending that as a hypothesis. That would be kinda like looking for my missing wallet in some place I had not been just because the light was better there.

But let's not forget that the evidence for any kind of Yeti is fairly lousy.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn't learn something from him. Galileo Galilei

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. Frederick Douglass


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by New Cat's Eye, posted 08-14-2014 3:28 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

Replies to this message:
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New Cat's Eye
Member
Posts: 11665
From: near St. Louis
Joined: 01-27-2005
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 12 of 92 (735453)
08-15-2014 2:44 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by NoNukes
08-15-2014 1:31 PM


Re: Bass Ackward
Where I am going with this, is that there are already plenty of excuses to blame Yeti sightings on bears. What new evidence is likely to be found by following up on RAZD's working hypothesis?

Fur, scat, footprints, or even an actual bear.


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NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 13 of 92 (735459)
08-15-2014 6:37 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by New Cat's Eye
08-15-2014 2:44 PM


Re: Bass Ackward
NoNukes writes:

What new evidence is likely to be found by following up on RAZD's working hypothesis?

Catholic Scientist writes:

Fur, scat, footprints, or even an actual bear.

None of that stuff would be new. The presence of bears in Tibet and the Himalayas is well known and documented.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn't learn something from him. Galileo Galilei

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. Frederick Douglass


This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by New Cat's Eye, posted 08-15-2014 2:44 PM New Cat's Eye has not yet responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 18864
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 14 of 92 (735467)
08-16-2014 8:16 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by NoNukes
08-13-2014 11:30 PM


In any event, formulating h1 would seem to be the easier part, although I don't think it is as trivial as you are making it. Formulating h0 properly seems most important in studying a yeti that may or may not even exist.

And non-existence is notoriously hard to demonstrate ... which leaves falsification somewhat problematic ... which is why it would be a working hypothesis rather than a more formal scientific one.

Er, what "yeti" is a bear? ...

The creature found in anecdotal evidence from purported footprints and sightings and that has been given the name "yeti" by to local people (Sherpas) in the area.

... Let's say that you confirm the existence of some kind of huge, funky, white bear. Is that the yeti?

Does it explain the evidence?

Message 11: There are bears in the Himalayas. There just don't seem to be many polar bears. And of course not all yeti sightings are supposed to be white. I'm not sure that most of them are white.

Which means the hypothesis that what is identified variously as yeti evidence is more likely to be due to a bear, yes?

On the other hand, finding an unknown ape/primate would be far more convincing ...

Yet this is more of a westernized version of the sherpa legend isn't it?

If a bear is found, is this sufficient reason to say that it is not the legendary yeti because it is not an ape? Wouldn't that be letting preconceptions bias your conclusion?

... What new evidence is likely to be found by following up on RAZD's working hypothesis?

It seems to me that most of the ("westernized") investigations to date have been predicated on the legendary creature being an ape, so this would change that focus.

Enjoy


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
RebelAmerican☆Zen☯Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by NoNukes, posted 08-13-2014 11:30 PM NoNukes has responded

Replies to this message:
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NoNukes
Inactive Member


Message 15 of 92 (735487)
08-16-2014 4:12 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by RAZD
08-16-2014 8:16 AM


Which means the hypothesis that what is identified variously as yeti evidence is more likely to be due to a bear, yes?

What comparison are you making here. More likely to be a bear than what?

And non-existence is notoriously hard to demonstrate ... which leaves falsification somewhat problematic ... which is why it would be a working hypothesis rather than a more formal scientific one.

I'm not the least bit interested in a non scientific investigation into whether Yeti's exist.


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison. Thoreau: Civil Disobedience (1846)

I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn't learn something from him. Galileo Galilei

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. Frederick Douglass


This message is a reply to:
 Message 14 by RAZD, posted 08-16-2014 8:16 AM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 16 by RAZD, posted 08-17-2014 3:23 PM NoNukes has responded

  
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