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Author Topic:   Is My Hypothesis Valid???
Straggler
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Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 1 of 409 (506986)
04-30-2009 6:09 PM


I have argued from two opposing ends of the spectrum that:

(objective evidence) + (logic) = (hypothesis)

In one case I argued that this was not enough to make ID by means of a supernatural entity a viable scientific hypothesis. I argued this on the basis of the inherent untestability of the conclusion (i.e. the conclusion that a supernatural entity was required as a "designer").

In another discussion I have also argued that the idea of extraterrestrial life is a viable hypothesis despite the fact that this hypothesis is arguably irrefutable in practical terms.

Now I accept that there is a difference between something being inherently untestable and something being untestable in practical terms only. Is the Higgs Boson strictly testable in practical terms at the moment? Does that make it's hypothetical existence non-scientific?

BUT I am keen to explore the potential contradictions in my own thinking on these matters by inviting others to comment. As a proviso I would add that my thinking since the ID argument (a great debate topic with Rob for the record) has progressed since that time.

What is a valid hypothesis? Need it be derived from evidence? Need it be refutable?

If promoted I intend to take a "devils advocate" position on this initially and oppose everyone that comments almost on principle. However given my overly opinionated stance on most things I am sure that this will be short lived and that my true position will surface all too soon.

If promoted - Is It Science is the obvious place for this....

Alien life exists - Is this a valid hypothesis?
An intelligent designer exists - Is this a valid hypothesis?


Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by bluescat48, posted 04-30-2009 10:39 PM Straggler has responded
 Message 4 by NosyNed, posted 04-30-2009 11:26 PM Straggler has responded
 Message 5 by PaulK, posted 05-01-2009 1:55 AM Straggler has responded
 Message 8 by LucyTheApe, posted 05-01-2009 8:56 AM Straggler has responded
 Message 14 by Stile, posted 05-01-2009 12:30 PM Straggler has responded
 Message 22 by RAZD, posted 05-03-2009 8:44 PM Straggler has responded

AdminNosy
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From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Message 2 of 409 (506997)
04-30-2009 8:20 PM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

bluescat48
Member (Idle past 2533 days)
Posts: 2347
From: United States
Joined: 10-06-2007


Message 3 of 409 (507012)
04-30-2009 10:39 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Straggler
04-30-2009 6:09 PM


The way I look at it, a hypothesis is neither valid or invalid until it has been tested and it is either confirmed (valid) or not confirmed or rejected (invalid).


There is no better love between 2 people than mutual respect for each other WT Young, 2002

Who gave anyone the authority to call me an authority on anything. WT Young, 1969

Since Evolution is only ~90% correct it should be thrown out and replaced by Creation which has even a lower % of correctness. W T Young, 2008


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Straggler, posted 04-30-2009 6:09 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by Straggler, posted 05-01-2009 8:34 AM bluescat48 has responded

NosyNed
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Posts: 8868
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003
Member Rating: 7.2


Message 4 of 409 (507014)
04-30-2009 11:26 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Straggler
04-30-2009 6:09 PM


Defining Terms
It is necessary to be clear about definitions of terms.

I think you are looking for a "valid" hypothesis meaning it is well-formed by some set of rules.

Bluescat is saying "valid" means right or wrong.

I think you and I agree. A hypothesis and be a perfectly good, scientific hypothesis but could still turn out to be wrong.

I think you need to suggest a new term other than "valid" (though I agree it is a good word). I guess I am putting forward "well-formed".


This message is a reply to:
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PaulK
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Posts: 15664
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.9


Message 5 of 409 (507021)
05-01-2009 1:55 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Straggler
04-30-2009 6:09 PM


Firstly any hypothesis that has not been confirmed (for whatever reason) must be regarded as speculative. But there is a spectrum here. Even an easily confirmed hypothesis must precede confirmation, and I do not think that the time between the proposal and the confirmation can itself be considered a qualitative difference. Thus we have something of a spectrum:
A hypothesis that can be confirmed immediately
A hypothesis that can be confirmed when the (existing) resources are available
A hypothesis that cannot be confirmed with current technology, but can be expected to be investigable in the near future.
and so on.

A hypothesis that cannot, in principle, be confirmed is arguably outside that spectrum since there is no prospect of ever being able to investigate it.

The other, related point is what are the grounds for believing the hypothesis to be true ? If the hypothesis is derived from a theory with strong confirmation, for instance, we should have far more confidence in it than if the ground were themselves speculative.

The existence of extraterrestrial life, for instance, can be supported by quite strong arguments (which have nothing to do with UFOlogy). The existence of an "Intelligent Designer" on the other hand is supported only by weak arguments. And that is the primary difference between them (that the Intelligent Designer is put beyond investigation has more to do with the weakness of the arguments for it than anything inherent in the loose concept).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Straggler, posted 04-30-2009 6:09 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 10 by Straggler, posted 05-01-2009 10:05 AM PaulK has responded

Straggler
Member
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 6 of 409 (507046)
05-01-2009 8:34 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by bluescat48
04-30-2009 10:39 PM


The way I look at it, a hypothesis is neither valid or invalid until it has been tested and it is either confirmed (valid) or not confirmed or rejected (invalid).

I meant to ask if the hypothesis is a valid hypothesis rather than whether or not is has actually been validated as correct.

Things like:

1) Is it derived from evidence?
2) Is it falsifiable?
3) Is it inherently untestable for some reason?

etc.

But I can see where my terminology is confusing.

One of my post pub not so great posts........


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by bluescat48, posted 04-30-2009 10:39 PM bluescat48 has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by bluescat48, posted 05-01-2009 9:43 AM Straggler has responded

Straggler
Member
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 7 of 409 (507049)
05-01-2009 8:39 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by NosyNed
04-30-2009 11:26 PM


Re: Defining Terms
I think you need to suggest a new term other than "valid" (though I agree it is a good word). I guess I am putting forward "well-formed".

Yes good point.

I am not talking about a hypothesis being validated. I do indeed mean "valid" or "well-formed" in terms of construction rather than verification.

I had a look at thesaurus alternatives for "valid" and "well-formed" was as good a choice as any.

So what makes a "well-formed" hypothesis?

Do either of the examples given in the OP qualify as well-formed hypotheses?


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LucyTheApe
Inactive Member


Message 8 of 409 (507053)
05-01-2009 8:56 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Straggler
04-30-2009 6:09 PM


(logic) = (hypothesis)-(objective evidence)
Um??


There no doubt exist natural laws, but once this fine reason of ours was corrupted, it corrupted everything.

blɛz paskal


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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bluescat48
Member (Idle past 2533 days)
Posts: 2347
From: United States
Joined: 10-06-2007


Message 9 of 409 (507062)
05-01-2009 9:43 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Straggler
05-01-2009 8:34 AM


validity
I meant to ask if the hypothesis is a valid hypothesis rather than whether or not is has actually been validated as correct.

How about, "Is the hypothesis validly formed?"

Edited by bluescat48, : grammar


There is no better love between 2 people than mutual respect for each other WT Young, 2002

Who gave anyone the authority to call me an authority on anything. WT Young, 1969

Since Evolution is only ~90% correct it should be thrown out and replaced by Creation which has even a lower % of correctness. W T Young, 2008


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Straggler, posted 05-01-2009 8:34 AM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by Straggler, posted 05-01-2009 11:54 AM bluescat48 has not yet responded

Straggler
Member
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 10 of 409 (507068)
05-01-2009 10:05 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by PaulK
05-01-2009 1:55 AM


Firstly any hypothesis that has not been confirmed (for whatever reason) must be regarded as speculative.

Absolutely. Let's take that as a given. I am talking about unverified hypotheses here.

A hypothesis that cannot, in principle, be confirmed is arguably outside that spectrum since there is no prospect of ever being able to investigate it.

OK.

The existence of extraterrestrial life, for instance, can be supported by quite strong arguments.

I agree.

(which have nothing to do with UFOlogy).

I agree with that too.

With my Devils Advocate hat on - At what point does in principle and in practise merge? If the alien life hypothesis were to be applied to those areas of the universe beyond the observable universe would that aspect of the hypothesis be invalidated on the grounds of being "unknowable"?

The existence of an "Intelligent Designer" on the other hand is supported only by weak arguments. And that is the primary difference between them (that the Intelligent Designer is put beyond investigation has more to do with the weakness of the arguments for it than anything inherent in the loose concept).

I agree.

But again to stir the pot a little.......

Is alien visitation a legitimate hypothesis by the standards you are applying here? Not the specifics (like people being probed) just the hypothesis that this could occur.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by PaulK, posted 05-01-2009 1:55 AM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by PaulK, posted 05-01-2009 1:33 PM Straggler has responded

kuresu
Member (Idle past 856 days)
Posts: 2544
From: boulder, colorado
Joined: 03-24-2006


Message 11 of 409 (507076)
05-01-2009 10:25 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by LucyTheApe
05-01-2009 8:56 AM


what exactly is the problem?

A hypothesis, as I understand it, is nothing more than a proposition that if X is true, Y should result. It is basically a logic statement (but obviously more than just a logic statement).

When you remove the objective evidence from a hypothesis, you are left with a logic statement. Formal logic is entirely independent of objective evidence.

What of the equation:
(objective evidence) = (hypothesis) - (logic)?

If you remove all the logic from a hypothesis, all you are left with are observations of reality, the objective evidence.

Seems to hold up to me.


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 Message 8 by LucyTheApe, posted 05-01-2009 8:56 AM LucyTheApe has not yet responded

Straggler
Member
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 12 of 409 (507077)
05-01-2009 10:38 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by LucyTheApe
05-01-2009 8:56 AM


Forming a Hypothesis
=Straggler(objective evidence) + (logic) = (hypothesis)
(logic) = (hypothesis)-(objective evidence)
Um??

Um indeed. I think you are taking things a little literally here......

It is not a mathematical equation. Just a quick way of writing that a hypothesis is formed by combining establshed evidence of some sort with a degree of speculative logic.

Do you disagree with that? If so how would you suggest that a hypothesis is formed?

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 13 of 409 (507087)
05-01-2009 11:54 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by bluescat48
05-01-2009 9:43 AM


Re: validity
How about, "Is the hypothesis validly formed?"

A bit clunky.

How about the word "legitimate"?

What defines a legitimate hypothesis?


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 Message 9 by bluescat48, posted 05-01-2009 9:43 AM bluescat48 has not yet responded

Stile
Member
Posts: 3863
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004


Message 14 of 409 (507092)
05-01-2009 12:30 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Straggler
04-30-2009 6:09 PM


Scientifically well-formed
Straggler writes:

(objective evidence) + (logic) = (hypothesis)

I like this presentation, and I think it's quite good in the sense of an efficient and clear way to present what a hyposthesis is.

In another discussion I have also argued that the idea of extraterrestrial life is a viable hypothesis despite the fact that this hypothesis is arguably irrefutable in practical terms.

I think that practical terms of irrefutable-ness are irrelevent when forming a hypothesis. As long as it's not inherently irrefutable.

Example:
Einstein's hypothesis when thinging about relativity was that light would bend with gravity too.
This was based on objective evidence (previous observations and resulting equations) and logic... therefore it is a fine hypothesis.
However, it couldn't be tested for a while. How do you measure the bending of light from gravity with early 20th century technology? You need some big gravity to bend light even a little bit.
Eventually Einstein figured out he could use a solar eclipse. Even with the mass of the moon, however, the light from the sun would only bend a very tiny amount... but, luckily, technology was just good enough to detect such a tiny amount.

However, regardless of the practical ability to test the hypothesis, the hypothesis was still scientifically valid (well-formed).

Would the impossibility of a solar eclipse remove the well-formness of the hypothesis? (Say our planet didn't have a moon or something like that...)
Would the impossibility of technology recording the bending remove the well-formness of the hypothesis? (Say Einstein was genius enough to come up with such a theory in the 12th century...)

I would say the answer to both those questions is "no."

An intelligent designer exists - Is this a valid hypothesis?

No. There is no objective evidence.

Alien life exists - Is this a valid hypothesis?

The question is too vague.

If "alien life" = bacteria or single-cell type stuff that lives in water
-Yes. There is plenty of objective evidence to support this as a valid, well-formed hypothesis.

If "alien life" = green humanoid-like men who also speak english
-No. There is no objective evidence.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Straggler, posted 04-30-2009 6:09 PM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
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PaulK
Member
Posts: 15664
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.9


Message 15 of 409 (507097)
05-01-2009 1:33 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Straggler
05-01-2009 10:05 AM


quote:

With my Devils Advocate hat on - At what point does in principle and in practise merge? If the alien life hypothesis were to be applied to those areas of the universe beyond the observable universe would that aspect of the hypothesis be invalidated on the grounds of being "unknowable"?

That's an interesting question. On one side if you just consider life beyond the observable universe it's not DEFINITELY impossible to find out in principle (e.g. we might find out that the observable universe is all that there is) So that's one way to hit the border.

If you just add life outside the observable universe to the hypothesis of life somewhere else, then it makes it a bit less falsifiable, a little more probable but doesn't make a lot of difference otherwise. (And if we searched the observable universe without finding life I'd be pretty skeptical of the idea of life elsewhere).

quote:

Is alien visitation a legitimate hypothesis by the standards you are applying here? Not the specifics (like people being probed) just the hypothesis that this could occur.

I think that depends very much on the details. If the hypothesis is properly testable (which requires falsifiability) then it is "legitimate" (although I don't think that is a good word for it). If it's protected from falsifiability with the usual excuses you find in UFOlogy then I'd have to say that it isn't - much like ID.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by Straggler, posted 05-01-2009 10:05 AM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 17 by Straggler, posted 05-01-2009 2:31 PM PaulK has responded

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