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The hypothesis of Andreas Cellarius, showing the planetary motions in eccentric and epicyclical orbits. For a hypothesis to be a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method requires that one can test it. The adjective hypothetical, meaning «having the nature of a hypothesis», or «being assumed to exist as an immediate consequence of a hypothesis», can refer to any of these meanings of the term «hypothesis». In its ancient usage, hypothesis referred to a summary of the plot of a classical drama. Socrates dissects virtue with a method used by mathematicians, that of «investigating from a hypothesis. In common usage in the 21st century, a hypothesis refers to a provisional idea whose merit requires evaluation. For proper evaluation, the framer of a hypothesis needs to define specifics in operational terms.
A hypothesis requires more work by the researcher in order to either confirm or disprove it. In due course, a confirmed hypothesis may become part of a theory or occasionally may grow to become a theory itself. In entrepreneurial science, a hypothesis is used to formulate provisional ideas within a business setting. The formulated hypothesis is then evaluated where either the hypothesis is proven to be «true» or «false» through a verifiability- or falsifiability-oriented experiment.
In framing a hypothesis, the investigator must not currently know the outcome of a test or that it remains reasonably under continuing investigation. Development in such cases does the experiment, test or study potentially increase the probability of showing the truth of a hypothesis. If the researcher already knows the outcome, it counts as a «consequence» — and hypothesis researcher should have already considered this while formulating the hypothesis. If one cannot assess the predictions by observation or by experience, the hypothesis needs to be tested by others providing observations. For example, a new technology or theory might make the necessary experiments feasible.
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People refer to a trial solution to a problem as a hypothesis, often called an «educated guess» because it provides a suggested outcome based on the evidence. However, some scientists reject the term «educated guess» as incorrect. A working hypothesis is a hypothesis that is provisionally accepted as a basis for further research in the hope that a tenable theory will be produced, even if the hypothesis ultimately fails. The provisional nature of working hypotheses make them useful as an organizing device in applied research. Here they act like a useful guide to address problems that are still in a formative phase. In recent years, philosophers of science have tried to integrate the various approaches to evaluating hypotheses, and the scientific method in general, to form a more complete system that integrates the individual concerns of each approach.
Concepts in Hempel’s deductive-nomological model play a key role in the development and testing of hypotheses. Most formal hypotheses connect concepts by specifying the expected relationships between propositions. The whole system floats, as it were, above the plane of observation and is anchored to it by rules of interpretation. When a possible correlation or similar relation between phenomena is investigated, such as whether a proposed remedy is effective in treating a disease, the hypothesis that a relation exists cannot be examined the same way one might examine a proposed new law of nature. In such an investigation, if the tested remedy shows no effect in a few cases, these do not necessarily falsify the hypothesis.
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