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Author Topic:   Working Hypothesis -- what is the value?
Tangle
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From: UK
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(1)
Message 31 of 92 (735616)
08-19-2014 4:14 AM


If we only allowed those doing 'pure' ie true Scotsman science, to comment on matters and only in their area of specialism and only after full peer review, the world's fora would be silent. (And all cross discipline ideas would be lost.)

Damn silly idea all round. It's the content stupid.


Life, don't talk to me about life - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


  
Straggler
Member (Idle past 98 days)
Posts: 10188
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 32 of 92 (735617)
08-19-2014 7:51 AM


The principles used to design and build bridges have a proven track record of success.

This has little or nothing to do with unsubstantiated myths about the existence of the Abominable Snowman.

To label them both as "working hypotheses" and insist that they are in some way methodologically the same is just conflation by virtue of linguistic contortion.


  
RAZD
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Joined: 03-14-2004
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Message 33 of 92 (735620)
08-19-2014 8:54 AM
Reply to: Message 20 by NoNukes
08-18-2014 9:33 AM


Re: Example 3 -- storm sewer design
... Nothing you discover using such a hypothesis will ever allow you to reach the conclusion that sightings of Yeti's were erroneous.

So you would agree that such a working hypothesis would be unfalsifiable.

... It should be quite clear that such a strategy is subject to confirmation bias. ...

And it would also be subject to confirmation of denial bias ...

The question is whether it would lead to avenues of exploration that have not yet been pursued, such as looking at migratory and winter hibernation patterns in bears to see if that explains the anecdotal evidence.

Enjoy


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This message is a reply to:
 Message 20 by NoNukes, posted 08-18-2014 9:33 AM NoNukes has responded

Replies to this message:
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RAZD
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Posts: 18241
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Message 34 of 92 (735621)
08-19-2014 9:04 AM
Reply to: Message 21 by NoNukes
08-18-2014 9:49 AM


Re: Example 4 -- bridge design
... When the bridge performs as expected, that is at least a partial verification that the underlying calculations based on physics and material properties was correct. ...

But the point is that the design is not being done for the purpose of verification of the principles, the purpose is to provide a practical use of those principals -- the bridge. This is done by using that knowledge and assumed loading as a working hypothesis AND then throwing on a factor of safety to help ensure that those principles are NOT tested.

... Those things would generally not be considered hypotheses.

The reason for the factor of safety is because the calculation results are hypothetical, the loading patterns used for the calculations are hypothetical ...

Enjoy


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This message is a reply to:
 Message 21 by NoNukes, posted 08-18-2014 9:49 AM NoNukes has responded

Replies to this message:
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RAZD
Member
Posts: 18241
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
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Message 35 of 92 (735622)
08-19-2014 9:18 AM
Reply to: Message 24 by NoNukes
08-18-2014 6:04 PM


Re: Example 4 -- bridge design
Besides that, civil engineers may well be the most cook book segment of the engineering profession. It is the much denigrated sister of mechanical engineering.

Like the joke about the braggart at a party talking about how, as a mechanical engineer, he designed weapons systems to blow up buildings and bridges, then asking what the other person does, who replies that as a civil engineer he designs targets?

What is your experience? ...

Curiously I have designed many structures ... my first degree is a BSc in Civil Engineering ... so I do know what I am talking about eh?

Enjoy


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This message is a reply to:
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NoNukes
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Posts: 9321
From: Central NC USA
Joined: 08-13-2010
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 36 of 92 (735623)
08-19-2014 9:25 AM
Reply to: Message 33 by RAZD
08-19-2014 8:54 AM


Re: Example 3 -- storm sewer design
The reason for the factor of safety is because the calculation results are hypothetical, the loading patterns used for the calculations are hypothetical ...

The term "hypothetical" here simply means calculated or estimated. It does not mean that the forces are a "working hypothesis" which appears to mean simply an explanation that RAZD neither falsifies or lets go of for any reason.


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 33 by RAZD, posted 08-19-2014 8:54 AM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 42 by RAZD, posted 08-19-2014 10:21 AM NoNukes has responded

    
RAZD
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Posts: 18241
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 37 of 92 (735624)
08-19-2014 9:27 AM
Reply to: Message 25 by Tangle
08-18-2014 6:07 PM


Re: Example 4 -- bridge design
But, by your admission, you're not a scientist nor a structural engineer, so you have ruled your opinion out by your own standards

Not quite right. Currently I am a designer, but In the past I have been a structural engineer and I have run some biological experiments (in a lab, with a lab coat ... ), complete with forming hypothesis and validating them ...

Enjoy.


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This message is a reply to:
 Message 25 by Tangle, posted 08-18-2014 6:07 PM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
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NoNukes
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Posts: 9321
From: Central NC USA
Joined: 08-13-2010
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 38 of 92 (735625)
08-19-2014 9:31 AM
Reply to: Message 33 by RAZD
08-19-2014 8:54 AM


Re: Example 3 -- storm sewer design
And it would also be subject to confirmation of denial bias ...

Apparently not. The fact that your process cannot cast any doubt on the hypothesis is exactly the problem.

The question is whether it would lead to avenues of exploration that have not yet been pursued, such as looking at migratory and winter hibernation patterns in bears to see if that explains the anecdotal evidence.

That would not "explain" the evidence. Instead, your hypothesis would be used to confirm or explain anything that matched. Since you are not concerned with forming a null hypothesis, you are apparently going to simply keep looking until you find something about bears that does match.

So you would agree that such a working hypothesis would be unfalsifiable.

Good question. I am taking you at your word that you want to use an unfalsifiable hypothesis. In any event, you are describing using it in a way where you won't notice or allow falsification. I suggested forming a null hypothesis and you indicated that you would not be doing that and that you would not be doing a scientific investigation.

Edited by NoNukes, : No reason given.

Edited by NoNukes, : No reason given.


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 33 by RAZD, posted 08-19-2014 8:54 AM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 43 by RAZD, posted 08-19-2014 10:24 AM NoNukes has not yet responded
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NoNukes
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Posts: 9321
From: Central NC USA
Joined: 08-13-2010
Member Rating: 2.6


(1)
Message 39 of 92 (735626)
08-19-2014 9:33 AM
Reply to: Message 34 by RAZD
08-19-2014 9:04 AM


Re: Example 4 -- bridge design
But the point is that the design is not being done for the purpose of verification of the principles, the purpose is to provide a practical use of those principals -- the bridge.

Agreed. That's why civil engineers are not scientists.


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 34 by RAZD, posted 08-19-2014 9:04 AM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 44 by RAZD, posted 08-19-2014 10:27 AM NoNukes has responded

    
RAZD
Member
Posts: 18241
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 40 of 92 (735627)
08-19-2014 9:53 AM
Reply to: Message 26 by herebedragons
08-18-2014 8:26 PM


a scientist is ...
...... the term scientist describes an occupation - a person who engages in a systematic activity in order to acquire knowledge. ...

Agreed, and I would similarly characterize the term engineer to describe an occupation - a person who engages in a systematic activity in order to use\apply knowledge for practical purposes.

For example, I would say my current occupation is a scientist. However, I have been working in the lab for about 8 weeks now and have not once developed an hypothesis or even tested a falsifiable premise. My primary job is to characterize a soil fungus (Rhizoctonia solani) isolated from dry beans in East Africa. I am going about that characterization in a systematic way and the product of my work will simply be the knowledge associated with that characterization (which will include some practical applications such as resistant varieties of beans). Even the controlled experiment I conducted was more of an application experiment rather than a falsifiable testing of an hypothesis.

Sound similar (albeit more extensive) to work I did on streams in N. Carolina to identify bacteria and measure dissolved oxygen levels and also to identify sources of pollution ...

Also, another point, I will use a lot of statistics in my job but that doesn't make me a statistician because it is not my primary purpose. So in that sense I agree, an engineer would not be a scientist just because during the course of their work they apply the scientific method. They are engineers because their primary function is to produce usable products through applied science. I don't think it is an issue of them not applying the scientific method but that their end goal is to produce usable products ratehr than basic knowledge.

Exactly. And just as a scientist in one field will accept the information developed in another field without testing it in order to apply it in their field, an engineer accepts the information developed in science to apply it to designs. The purpose is to design practical applications, and so a factor of safety is used to help ensure that failure is not tested ...

So back to how this all got started, Walt Brown is not a scientist because he does not engage in systematic activity in order to acquire knowledge; ...

Agreed. Nor is someone who engages in a systematic activity to apply knowledge a scientist, imho.

... not because he has a mechanical engineering degree ...

Which was the 'appeal to authority' fallacy by mram ...

... whether he is an authority on any of the issues he writes about would depend on not only the degree he has but also the occupation he engages in; a degree alone does not makes one an authority. I would say he is more of a science fiction writer.

Curiously, I would say that it depends on the occupation a person engages in regardless of degree -- a high school student can be a scientist by engaging in a "systematic activity in order to acquire knowledge" using the scientific method (some amazing stuff done for science fairs eh?).

This is why I differentiate between engineers (in general, based on degrees and occupation) and scientists. If one or two engineers engage in science it does not make the field and all the other engineers science.

Enjoy

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : Did [/qs] for 1 quote box.


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This message is a reply to:
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RAZD
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Posts: 18241
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
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Message 41 of 92 (735628)
08-19-2014 10:03 AM
Reply to: Message 27 by herebedragons
08-18-2014 8:32 PM


How is a "working hypothesis" different than a regular hypothesis?
Would you clarify for me what you mean by the term "working hypothesis?" How is that different than a regular hypothesis?

I have used the term myself but meant it to mean a hypothesis that can be used to develop testable predictions. You seem to be using the term in a slightly different way, I'm not quite sure.

An hypothesis that can be a guide to further investigation, develop an approach to a problem,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_hypothesis

quote:
A working hypothesis is a hypothesis that is provisionally accepted as a basis for further research[1] in the hope that a tenable theory will be produced, even if the hypothesis ultimately fails.[2] Like all hypotheses, a working hypothesis is constructed as a statement of expectations, which can be linked to the exploratory research [3] purpose in empirical investigation and is often used as a conceptual framework in qualitative research.[4][5]

Charles Sanders Peirce came to hold that an explanatory hypothesis is not only justifiable as a tentative conclusion by its plausibility (by which he meant its naturalness and economy of explanation),[7] but also justifiable as a starting point by the broader promise that the hypothesis holds for research. This idea of justifying a hypothesis as potentially fruitful (at the level of research method), not merely as plausible (at the level of logical conclusions), is essential for the idea of a working hypothesis, as later elaborated by Peirce's fellow pragmatist John Dewey.

John Dewey used the concept of the working hypothesis as a pivotal feature in his theory of inquiry.[14] Contrary to the principles of verification and falsifiability, used in formal hypothesis testing found within dominant paradigms of 'normal' science,[15] working hypotheses were conceived by Dewey as neither true nor false but "provisional, working means of advancing investigation," which lead to the discovery of other unforeseen but "relevant" facts.[16] Dewey's development of the concept of the working hypothesis emerged from his contextualist epistemology in which absolute truth is unobtainable and replaced by "warranted assertability".[17]


As such it is less formal than a scientific hypothesis that has falsifiability as a criteria. More like an educated guess ...

If a working hypothesis is fruitful it can lead to a scientific hypothesis and further investigation.

Enjoy.

Edited by RAZD, : /quote


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RAZD
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Posts: 18241
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 42 of 92 (735629)
08-19-2014 10:21 AM
Reply to: Message 36 by NoNukes
08-19-2014 9:25 AM


working hypothesis is a hypothesis used as a basis for further inquiry or design
The term "hypothetical" here simply means calculated or estimated. It does not mean that the forces are a "working hypothesis" which appears to mean simply an explanation that RAZD neither falsifies or lets go of for any reason.

You don't KNOW what the actual loading will be or how the bridge will be used in the future, so you develop several hypothetical scenarios of loading to use as a basis for the calculations. It is the application of the hypothesis as a basis for actual design that makes it a working hypothesis.

You can't test that the loading is what will really happen (you can't test the future events), so it isn't falsifiable, so it isn't a scientific hypothesis as that term is normally used.

Enjoy


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RebelAmerican☆Zen☯Deist
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This message is a reply to:
 Message 36 by NoNukes, posted 08-19-2014 9:25 AM NoNukes has responded

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RAZD
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Posts: 18241
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 43 of 92 (735630)
08-19-2014 10:24 AM
Reply to: Message 38 by NoNukes
08-19-2014 9:31 AM


confirmation of denial bias

And it would also be subject to confirmation of denial bias ...

Apparently not. The fact that your process cannot cast any doubt on the hypothesis is exactly the problem.

And yet here you are, confirming your bias of denial ...

Enjoy


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RebelAmerican☆Zen☯Deist
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This message is a reply to:
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RAZD
Member
Posts: 18241
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
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Message 44 of 92 (735631)
08-19-2014 10:27 AM
Reply to: Message 39 by NoNukes
08-19-2014 9:33 AM


Re: Example 4 -- bridge design
But the point is that the design is not being done for the purpose of verification of the principles, the purpose is to provide a practical use of those principals -- the bridge.

Agreed. That's why civil engineers are not scientists.

And, curiously, that is why engineers in general are not scientists, because "the point is that the design is not being done for the purpose of verification of the principles, the purpose is to provide a practical use of those principals" ...

Enjoy


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RebelAmerican☆Zen☯Deist
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This message is a reply to:
 Message 39 by NoNukes, posted 08-19-2014 9:33 AM NoNukes has responded

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RAZD
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Posts: 18241
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 45 of 92 (735632)
08-19-2014 10:30 AM
Reply to: Message 29 by herebedragons
08-18-2014 11:26 PM


...
Indeed. In fact, engineers as a whole are the brightest and most gifted individuals on a college campus.

Well I always thought so ...


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