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proposed explanation for a phenomenon
(Redirected from Hypothetical)
Andreas Cellarius hypothesis, demonstrating the planetary motions in eccentric and epicyclical orbits

A Hypothesis (plural hypotheses) is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. For a hypothesis to be a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method requires that one can test it. Scientists generally base scientific hypotheses on previous observations that cannot satisfactorily be explained with the available scientific theories.


  • The functional validity of a working hypothesis is not a priori certain, because often it is initially based on intuition. However, logical deductions from such a hypothesis provide expectations (so called prognoses) as to the circumstances under which certain phenomena will appear in nature. Such a postulate or working hypothesis can then be substantiated by additional observations or by experiments especially arranged to test details. The value of the hypothesis is strengthened if the observed facts fit the expectation within the limits of permissible error.
  • One thinker no less brilliant than the heresiarch himself, but in the orthodox tradition, advanced a most daring hypothesis. This felicitous supposition declared that there is only one Individual, and that this indivisible Individual is every one of the separate beings in the universe, and that these beings are the instruments and masks of divinity itself.
  • There are two possible outcomes: if the result confirms the hypothesis, then you've made a measurement. If the result is contrary to the hypothesis, then you've made a discovery.
    • Enrico Fermi As quoted in Nuclear Principles in Engineering (2005) by Tatjana Jevremovic, p. 397.
  • I do not yet want to form a hypothesis to test, because as soon as you make a hypothesis, you become prejudiced. Your mind slides into a groove, and once it is in that groove, has difficulty noticing anything outside of it. During this time, my sense must be sharp; that is the main thing — to be sharp, yet open.
    • Bernd Heinrich A Year in the Maine Woods (1995) : Wondering how golden-crowned kinglets, which eat insects from open branches, survive the Maine winters, in "December 11 : Wind", p. 150.
  • The truth is, that these writings of mine were meant to protect the arguments of Parmenides against those who make fun of him and seek to show the many ridiculous and contradictory results which they suppose to follow from the affirmation of the one. My answer is addressed to the partisans of the many, whose attack I return with interest by retorting upon them that their hypothesis of the being of many, if carried out, appears to be still more ridiculous than the hypothesis of the being of one. Zeal for my master led me to write the book in the days of my youth, but some one stole the copy; and therefore I had no choice whether it should be published or not; the motive, however, of writing, was not the ambition of an elder man, but the pugnacity of a young one.

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