Are hypotheses bullshit?

At some talk a couple years ago I heard either Hubel or Wiesel (can anyone tell them apart?) say that the only hypothesis they had was that there “should be something interesting happening in the visual cortex.” Later, someone told me it wasn’t even that — it was just that the skull was thinnest there. I don’t think I ever really have a hypothesis until I am forced to make one up when writing shit up. Like I‘ll type the phrase “We hypothesized…” to start a transition in a paper and then have to make it sound like we knew what might happen. 

There are routine questions that should not even count as hypotheses (e.g., if this observation is dependent on X, an X antagonist should fuck it up). But it seems like most discoveries come from just looking at something new or looking at something familiar in a new way. Maybe this is a mundane truth to experienced scientists, I’m just sayin’, the longer this goes on, the more every single thing I was taught outside a lab about science turns out to be bullshit. Next up: are lab coats bullshit? I don’t have one, and I can’t figure out what they’re for.

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4 Comments on “Are hypotheses bullshit?”

  1. neuroecology says:

    Hypotheses are for review panels and philosophers of science

  2. miko says:

    I get it for the philosophers, but review panels (and peer reviewers) are supposed to be scientists themselves and should therefore know that hypotheses are bullshit. So why the game? There is such a massive disconnect from the way people want to talk about science at a meeting (what did you do and what did you see and what does it all maybe mean?) and what reviewers seem to expect (linear neat narrative, no loose ends, testing of hypotheses) that I’m constantly befuddled: AREN’T YOU THE SAME PEOPLE?

  3. […] June: At some talk a couple years ago I heard either Hubel or Wiesel (can anyone tell them apart?) say that the only hypothesis they had was that there “should be something interesting happening in the visual cortex.” […]

  4. theLaplaceDemon says:

    Lab coats are for when the building AC is cranked up and you forgot to bring a sweater.


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