What good is a hypothesis?

Why are tentative explanations useful in scientific work or in problem solving?

Hypotheses are useful in guiding exploration of new phenomena, and they're very useful in problem solving.

People who have a talent for fixing things are adept at making and testing hypotheses. For example, suppose your computer's printer stops working. To fix it yourself, you must propose and test a series of hypotheses. If the power indicator is lit, you can reject the hypothesis that the outlet is bad. If the online indicator LED is lit, you can reject the hypothesis that the computer is offline. If there is paper in the printer and the paper path is clear and unjammed, you can reject the hypothesis that there is something wrong with the paper supply. Continue to propose hypotheses until you arrive at a hypothesis you can't reject. While you are not guaranteed of an eventual solution, this approach allows you to attack the problem in a methodical, thorough manner.

Author: Fred Senese senese@antoine.frostburg.edu

General Chemistry Online! What good is a hypothesis?

Copyright © 1997-2010 by Fred Senese
Comments & questions to fsenese@frostburg.edu
Last Revised 02/23/18.URL: http://antoine.frostburg.edu/chem/senese/101/intro/faq/print-why-hypothesis.shtml