The power of the null hypothesis

02Dec14

It’s a question many skeptics pose for EBD and many researchers ask themselves. It’s very easy to go down the slippery slope of testing a hypothesis and finding evidence to support it—but this approach is, in fact, fundamentally contrary to scientific method.

If you take a statistics class, one of the first things you learn is that you never set out to prove the hypothesis. In fact, you set out to disprove the opposite. The null hypothesis is the assumption of innocence in a scientific experiment and corresponds to a default or neutral state, assuming an absence of relationship between key elements studied.

The null hypothesis provides a neutral starting point and should be where we start a study. So if we’re interested in exploring, say, the relationship between flooring and falls, the starting assumption is that no relationship exists. An alternative hypothesis is that some relationship exists and that types of flooring can either increase falls or decrease falls. This fundamental approach of starting from a neutral ground is key; it ensures that we’re not busy proving what we hope to find.

Correlation is not causality
The other key component to conducting good research is the distinction between causality and correlation. Just because two things happened simultaneously doesn’t mean that one caused the other.

Read the full article here

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