Scalpel's Edge

A surgeon's notes

Null hypotheses

A conclusion is simply the place where you got tired of thinking.


The purpose of the null hypothesis is a plausible explanation for a set of data. Science is perverse and therefore starts off agreeing that what it wants to be true is not actually true. Then it tries to prove that assertion wrong.

It works like this: I think daisies might be useful to treat fungalorating of toenails. I hypothesize that daisies have no effect on the fungalorating of toenails. And now I will attempt to prove myself wrong.

Null hypotheses I am failing to disprove:

  1. Sleep patterns of preschoolers are not affected by daylight savings
  2. Medical students can be taught that medical research is cool
  3. Medical research effort is unrelated to statistical significance of results

  4. Medical research effort is unrelated to clinical significance of experiment

  5. If you ignore it, it goes away
  6. Workers who thrive under external pressure find it easy to pressure themselves
  7. Work effort is unrelated to proximity to holidays

Anyone got any more?

5 responses to “Null hypotheses”

  1. dreamingspires says:

    the longer I type away at my keyboard, the longer will be the list of emails awaiting a response from me

  2. dreamingspires says:

    the more I eat healthily, the more I want chocolate

  3. enrico says:

    I’m not going to offer my attempts at stat humor, but this is one of the most brilliant post topics I’ve come across in a long time! 🙂

  4. dragonfly says:

    The more expensive my reagants, the more likely my experiment is to work.
    The more difficult a sample is to get, the more likely that experiments upon it will show clear results.

    I think there are some links between the null hypothesis and Murphy’s law frankly…

  5. Cris says:


    I like your thinking. I think I will give Murphy a co-author on my next paper …

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