Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hypothesizing about Hypotheses

I guess that it is important to properly pose your question/model ect when designing experiments and doing science in general. This article is right up Bayman's alley of interest. Published in Cell, the authors discuss the brief history of the hypothesis and some interesting thoughts about the way which science is actually done, without hypothesizing. Access to Cell is required to actually read the full text.
Hypotheses are not to be regarded in experimental Philosophy” (Newton, 1721).


Anonymous Coward said...

from the paper: " Finally, when confronting a project where comprehensive data sets are accumulated, such as genome sequences, a hypothesis may not even be feasible. What would such a hypothesis be? Only a question is required: “What is the sequence of genome X?”. This would be followed by an answer, the genome sequence, that can be tested for reproducibility by further sequencing, allowing for an increasingly improved model for the genome. Thus, although a hypothesis might have been thought to be necessary in the past, it no longer seems to be so. It is better to see science as a quest for good questions to try to answer, rather than a quest for bold hypotheses to try to refute. "

kamel said...

As I wrote before when the WIRED editorial first came out, I don't think hypothesis driven science is dead yet.

Genome sequencing is the classic example (used by Anderson in WIRED and again in this paper) of brute-force science without hypotheses. But that type of work doesn't exist in a vacuum - the data from genome sequencing is used to generate new hypotheses for testing or supporting existing models and hypotheses.

I'm not ready to side with Newton on this one.

kamel said...

Interestingly, shortly after the WIRED 'death of theory' piece, this article appeared claiming there was *too much* hypothesis driven science going on.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

A hypothesis is produced when you write your dissertation without coffee.

Kevin Zelnio said...

lim, why would you even think of such a thing??? writing without coffee??? are you freaking insane???

Thomas said...


Find “Pierre Trémaux”

Trémaux on species: A theory of allopatric speciation (and punctuated equilibrium) before Wagner