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Non-Testable Hypothesis

Non-Testable Hypothesis

Sometimes you are in an argument, and your opponent says something that you just can't counter. There's just no way to prove them wrong. Although an argument like this might seem strong or even unbeatable, in reality it is a logical fallacy, one known as the non-testable hypothesis. Once you understand how the non-testable hypothesis works, it becomes much easier to identify and reject in logical argumentation.

Meaning a Non-Testable Hypothesis

A non-testable hypothesis is a logical fallacy. A fallacy is an error of some kind.

A logical fallacy is employed like a logical reason, but it is actually flawed and illogical.

A non-testable hypothesis is specifically an informal logical fallacy, which means that its fallacy lies not in the structure of the logic (which would be a formal logical fallacy), but rather in something else about the argument.

A non-testable hypothesis is a claim that cannot be tested.

A non-testable hypothesis can occur in a single claim or in an argument involving multiple claims.

Argument From a Non-Testable Hypothesis

Here is what it looks like to make an argument from a non-testable hypothesis.

Other sentient lifeforms absolutely exist in the universe.

In some ways, this isn't unreasonable to conclude. If humans exist, and we live on just one planet in the universe, it seems reasonable to conclude that other sentient lifeforms are out there, too. However, there is absolutely no way to test this claim.

Because there is no way at the moment to observe the presence of other sentient lifeforms, to argue they "absolutely" exist is to argue a non-testable hypothesis.

Non=Testable Hypothesis, Alien, StudysmarterMaybe aliens exist, maybe not. It's a non-testable hypothesis.

If there is no way on Earth to logically test whether something is true, then it is a non-testable hypothesis. You might be able to predict whether something turns out to be true, but you cannot predict whether something is true.

Our means to test things on Earth are always evolving, but your hypotheses should be based on our means as of today, not on means that we may or not have in the future.

Here's a better way to phrase our thoughts about aliens.

Based upon what we know, it is probable that other sentient lifeforms exist in the universe.

Because this is not making a claim, this is not a hypothesis, non-testable or otherwise. This is a prediction and therefore not a logical fallacy.

Predictions vs. hypotheses: When a weather forecaster predicts sunny skies tomorrow, she is not forming a hypothesis. She is using past data to extrapolate the probability of something happening in the future. Likewise, someone can predict that we will find aliens one day—and maybe even when we will find aliens—based on what we know about the universe today and our rate of technological growth. However, this prediction does not prove it will happen. It merely predicts the likelihood that it will happen, based upon some form of data.

On the other hand, hypotheses prove certainties. Gravity is a certainty. It has been proven by hypothesis to exist. Gravity is not "99% proven to exist."

Think of it this way. If a weather forecaster "hypothesizes" that it will rain tomorrow, and it does rain, what has she proven? Has she proven that her forecasting abilities are infallible? Obviously not. In fact, the most she could prove, after many trials, is the statistical likelihood that her forecasts are correct. She can use evidence to support the probable efficiency of her work.

Why a Non-Testable Hypothesis is a Fallacy

A non-testable hypothesis boils down to, "you can't prove this right, and you can't prove it wrong."

If something cannot be proven right or wrong, then what does it prove? It doesn't prove anything, which is the problem with arguing from a non-testable hypothesis.

To draw a conclusion requires evidence. However, a non-testable hypothesis cannot be supported by evidence and to conclude anything based upon a non-testable hypothesis is a fallacy.

Essay Example of a Non-Testable Hypothesis

Here is how someone might use a non-testable hypothesis as a form of support in an essay.

There is much more evidence to support the existence of the Illuminati than one realizes. First of all, many philosophers, including Reginald Riposte, believe it is very sane to believe that the elites could be running the world, even the Illuminati. Second, and perhaps most damning, is the fact that the Illuminati are untraceable, as if magically concealed. In other words, because they go unseen and unheard, their effects are missed. Third, there is a wealth of historical evidence that points to their existence. In fact, evidence dates back to the 18th century, when the “Bavarian Illuminati” formed. From there, their power only grew."

This quote is brimming with logical fallacies and more. However, can you spot the non-testable hypothesis amid the riffraff?

The non-testable hypothesis is in the second “point,” that the Illuminati are untraceable. Absurdly, this writer asserts that the Illuminati does things, despite the fact that it is impossible to prove or disprove the actions of untraceable "magic-like" entities. In reality, the writer cannot assert anything about a group that is "untraceable, as if magically concealed" for the very reason that they are "untraceable, as if magically concealed."

Difference Between a Testable and Non-Testable Hypothesis

All right, so how can one avoid writing a non-testable hypothesis? First, it’s important to understand what a testable hypothesis looks like. Here’s one.

Water changes from solid to liquid when it rises above 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sure, this one is a bit obvious, but it makes for a good example. This hypothesis can be tested in the laboratory. Here’s another one.

When I pet my cat, he purrs.

This one can be tested by, well, petting the cat in various situations. He probably won’t always purr, a fact that will disprove this hypothesis.

Un-testable hypothesis, Difference between testable and non-testable hypothesis, Scientist, StudySmarterTestable hypotheses can be verfied by testing them.

Notice how, in these examples, there is some kind of test that can be performed. That’s it. That’s a testable hypothesis. If you can’t test it, then it is non-testable.

Tips to Avoid a Non-Testable Hypothesis

Non-testable hypotheses are ridiculous “logical arguments,” and you should be very conscious not to use one. Here are some ways to be sure that doesn’t happen:

To avoid a non-testable hypothesis, don’t make assumptions

When you assume things, you don’t verify them. When you don't verify something, you may employ a non-testable hypothesis.

For instance, someone might write in an essay that, "Because Shakespeare is a towering figure, the greatest of all playwrights, it is unlikely that he would make such an error in his play." However, this line of reasoning employs a non-testable hypothesis. You cannot prove that Shakespeare is the "greatest" of all playwrights, because "greatest" is a subjective term. Therefore, you cannot use such a notion in a logical argument.

This would not have happened if the writer had not made the assumption that Shakespeare is the best, and instead investigated that idea before committing it to paper. If they had investigated that idea, they would have found that it cannot be proven one way or another.

Fun fact, this example is also the fallacy of appealing to an authority. Even well-regarded figures can make mistakes!

To avoid a non-testable hypothesis, don’t validate all beliefs as logical

It’s a fair idea to respect a non-harmful belief. However, just because you respect someone’s beliefs or opinions, it does not mean that you should accept their beliefs and opinions as valid in a logical argument. Validate yours and others’ beliefs not by volume of opinion, not by friendship, not by anything except logic.

If you fail to do this, you will find non-testable hypotheses creeping into your own logic. You want an essay that follows the logical road.

To avoid a non-testable hypothesis, understand your claims

The bottom line is this: when you make a claim, understand where it is coming from. Be sure you are not taking anything for granted or making an emotional claim. Be sure you are not speaking purely from a personal experience, as this can open the door for bias. Also, be sure you understand why you believe what you believe before you attempt to use it in a logical argument. You need to be certain you have empirically verifiable data to help prove your hypothesis. If you employ a non-testable hypothesis as the basis for your argument, it is dead at the get-go.

Synonyms for Non-Testable Hypothesis

The non-testable hypothesis is also known as the "untestable fallacy," the "unfalsifiable fallacy," and the "untestable explanation fallacy." All of these names refer to the exact same flaw in logic.

Note that an un-testable hypothesis is not synonymous with a hypothesis that cannot be tested yet due to the immediate limits of our science. For instance, in theoretical physics, there are many hypotheses that we cannot test yet. These theories and hypotheses are not fallacious; they are simply as yet unproven. However, using any such concept as evidence remains fallacious in argumentation, and is still an argument from a non-testable hypothesis.

You can identify a high-level theoretical concept by seeing whether it is discussed at the highest level of academia. High-level theories are based heavily in what we do know as scientific fact, whereas less esteemed non-testable hypotheses are based in no science whatsoever.

Non-Testable Hypothesis - Key takeaways

  • A non-testable hypothesis is a claim that cannot be tested.
  • A testable hypothesis can be proven or disproven.
  • Your hypotheses should be based on our means today, not on means that we may or not have in the future.
  • To avoid a non-testable hypothesis, don’t make assumptions, don't validate all beliefs as logical, and do understand your claims.
  • The non-testable hypothesis is also known as the "untestable fallacy," the "unfalsifiable fallacy," and the "untestable explanation fallacy."

Frequently Asked Questions about Non-Testable Hypothesis

non-testable hypothesis is a claim that cannot be tested.

An example of a non-testable hypothesis is: Planet Earth is frequented by invisible aliens.

The difference between a testable and non-testable hypothesis is that a testable hypothesis can be tested in some way, such as by trial or experimentation. If it cannot be tested, then it is non-testable.

The effects of a non-testable hypothesis is a failed argument because it is a logical fallacy.

A hypothesis that cannot be tested is called a non-testable hypothesis.

Final Non-Testable Hypothesis Quiz

Question

If a claim can be tested, is there a small chance it is still a non-testable hypothesis?

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Answer

No. It is testable then.

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Question

Should you cite a high-level academic theory that is currently untestable as evidence?

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Answer

No. 

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Question

A logical fallacy appears like what?

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Answer

A logical reason

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A non-testable hypothesis ____________.

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Answer

Cannot be tested.

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Question

When somebody presents a non-testable hypothesis, they fail to make the distinction between _____ reasons and _____ reasons.


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Answer

Emotional, logical

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In a logical argument or essay, when can an emotional reason substitute for a logical reason?

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Answer

Never.

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What is the problem with using emotions to clarify and study reality?

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Answer

Emotions cannot clarify anything in reality, and the clarification of reality is the objective of logical discourse.

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Question

"Yesterday, I did walk down that road!"

Could this claim be a non-testable hypothesis?

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Answer

Yes. If no one saw it and no evidence exists, then it is not a testable hypothesis. 

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Question

To avoid a non-testable hypothesis, don't make assumptions. What does this mean?

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Answer

Do not assume a conclusion is true without some form of logical verification.

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Question

When you assume things, you don’t verify them. When you don't verify something, you mighty employ a ______. 


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Answer

Non-testable hypothesis

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Just because you respect someone’s beliefs or opinions, it does not mean that you should accept their beliefs and opinions as _____ in a logical argument.

Fill in the blank.


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Answer

Valid or correct.

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In order to avoid a non-testable hypothesis, when you make a claim, understand _____.

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Answer

Where your claim is coming from.

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Question

What are some other names for the non-testable hypothesis? 

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Answer

The non-testable hypothesis is also known as the "untestability fallacy," the "unfalsifiability fallacy," and the "untestable explanation fallacy."

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Question

Is the untestability fallacy a logical fallacy?

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Answer

Yes.

Show question

Question

Is the following a non-testable hypothesis?


Leonardo da Vinci preferred cats with white hair to cats with brown hair.

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Answer

Yes.

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Is the following a non-testable hypothesis?


Every time there is a full moon, crickets chirrup extra loud. 

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Answer

No.

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Your hypotheses can be based on our means that we may have in the future.


True or false.

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Answer

False.

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Hypotheses prove certainties, whereas ________ predict the likelihood that something will happen.

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Answer

Predictions.

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What is the problem with a non-testable hypothesis?

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Answer

You can't prove it right or wrong.

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Question

Is the following a non-testable hypothesis? Why or why not?


Skunks are afraid of the color red.

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Answer

No. You could test this hypothesis by exposing a skunk to the color red and seeing its reaction.

Show question

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