Critical Thinking across the Curriculum: A Brief Edition of Thought and Knowledge

By Diane F. Halpern | Go to book overview

6
Thinking as Hypothesis Testing

Suppose that the following is true: You are seriously addicted to heroin and you have two choices of treatment programs.

Program 1: This program is run by former heroin addicts. Your therapist will be a recovered addict who is the same age you are. The literature about this program states that among those who stay with the program for at least 1 year, the success rate is very high (80%). One of the biggest advantages of this program is that your therapist knows what it's like to be seriously addicted and can offer you insights from his own recovery.

Program 2: The therapists in this program have studied the psychology and biology of heroin addiction. The success rate that they provide is much lower than that provided for Program 1 (30%), but the percentage of successes is based on everyone who enters treatment. Your therapist has never been addicted to heroin but has studied various treatment options.

This is an important decision for you. Which do you choose?


UNDERSTANDING HYPOTHESIS TESTING

Research is an intellectual approach to an unsolved problem, and its function is to seek the truth.

-- Leedy ( 1981, p. 7)

Much of our thinking is like the scientific method of hypothesis testing. A hypothesis is a set of beliefs about the nature of the world; it is usually a belief about a relationship between two or more variables. In order to understand the world around us, we accumulate observations, formulate beliefs or hypotheses (singular is hypothesis), and then observe if our hypotheses are confirmed or disconfirmed. Thus, hypothesis testing is one way of finding out the truth about the world. Formulating hypotheses

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