What Do You Do if Your Hypothesis Is Wrong?
27 JUN 2018
A hypothesis is an idea that a scientist creates as the basis for an experiment. Typically, the hypothesis is based on previous findings, such as how certain chemicals react. The science experiment is designed to disprove or support the initial hypothesis. When the findings do not align with the hypothesis, the experiment is not a failure. When the results do not agree with the hypothesis, record the information just as if it did support the original hypothesis.
1 Record Actual Results
When a hypothesis is disproven, that does not indicate a failed experiment. Most science experiments are designed to support or disprove a hypothesis. Recording actual results can sometimes be a struggle, especially if you wanted your hypothesis to be true. However, it's important to resist the temptation to record false results. The whole point of doing an experiment is to determine if something is true or not. In that sense, if your hypothesis is wrong, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're wrong. What matters is how you write-up your report. The results -- even if they're different from your hypothesis -- will demonstrate what you learned and how you might change the experiment next time.
2 Explain What Was Wrong
Make a list of everything that was wrong with the hypothesis. Make a second list with the any information that was correct in the original hypothesis. Write a short paragraph about each area where the hypothesis was correct or incorrect for a thorough explanation. Use photos, if possible, to illustrate the areas in which the hypothesis was incorrect.
3 Additional Information
Write down the information that was discovered from the experiment. Record the actual results and how they differed from the original hypothesis. Include notes for future experiments on the same topic that can help explore the idea further. Write down areas that need expansion for future experiments so that the results are more accurate, such as additional focus groups or a longer test period.
4 New Hypothesis
Create a new hypothesis for the same experiment. Although you disproved the initial hypothesis, you did not prove that something else will always happen. There is always room for more testing before something is completely proven. Write down the new hypothesis for future experiments. Present the findings together in a paper, at class or at a science fair.