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Every hypothesis test contains a set of two opposing statements, or hypotheses, about a population parameter. The first hypothesis is called the denoted H_{0}. The null hypothesis always states that the population parameter is to the claimed value. For example, if the claim is that the average time to make a name-brand ready-mix pie is five minutes, the statistical shorthand notation for the null hypothesis in this case would be as follows:

Before actually conducting a hypothesis test, you have to put two possible hypotheses on the table — the null hypothesis is one of them. But, if the null hypothesis is rejected (that is, there was sufficient evidence against it), what’s your alternative going to be? Actually, three possibilities exist for the second (or alternative) hypothesis, denoted H_{a}. Here they are, along with their shorthand notations in the context of the pie example:

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Photo provided by Flickr

**Sample question:** A researcher claims that more than 23% of community members go to church regularly. In a recent survey, 126 out of 420 people stated they went to church regularly. Is there enough evidence at α = 0.05 to support this claim? Use the P-Value method to support or reject null hypothesis.

*Compare your answer from step 5 with the α value given in the question*. Support or reject the null hypothesis? If step 5 is less than α, reject the null hypothesis, otherwise do not reject it. In this case, .582 (5.82%) is not less than our α, so we do not reject the null hypothesis.

**Sample question:** A researcher claims that Democrats will win the next election. 4300 voters were polled; 2200 said they would vote Democrat. Decide if you should support or reject null hypothesis. Is there enough evidence at α=0.05 to support this claim?

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You’ll be asked to convert a word problem into a** hypothesis **statement in statistics that will include a null hypothesis and an . Breaking your problem into a few small steps makes these problems much easier to handle.

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Not so long ago, people believed that the world was flat.

Null hypothesis, H_{0}: The world is flat.

Alternate hypothesis: The world is round.

Several scientists, including , set out to disprove the null hypothesis. This eventually led to the rejection of the null and the acceptance of the alternate. Most people accepted it — the ones that didn’t created the !. What would have happened if Copernicus had not disproved the it and merely proved the alternate? No one would have listened to him. In order to change people’s thinking, he first had to prove that their thinking was *wrong*.

In many statistical tests, you’ll want to either reject or support the . For elementary statistics students, the term can be a tricky term to grasp, partly because the name “null hypothesis” doesn’t make it clear about *what *the null hypothesis actually is!

How do you know which hypothesis to put in H_{0} and which one to put in H_{a}? Typically, the null hypothesis says that nothing new is happening; the previous result is the same now as it was before, or the groups have the same average (their difference is equal to zero). In general, you assume that people’s claims are true until proven otherwise. So the question becomes: Can you prove otherwise? In other words, can you show sufficient evidence to reject H_{0}?

*State what will happen if the experiment doesn’t make any difference.* That’s the null hypothesis–that nothing will happen. In this experiment, if nothing happens, then the recovery time will stay at 8.2 weeks.

The short answer is, as a scientist, you are *required to*; It’s part of the scientific process. Science uses a battery of processes to prove or disprove theories, making sure than any new hypothesis has no flaws. Including both a null and an alternate hypothesis is one safeguard to ensure your research isn’t flawed. Not including the null hypothesis in your research is considered very bad practice by the scientific community. If you set out to prove an alternate hypothesis without considering it, you are likely setting yourself up for failure. At a minimum, your experiment will likely not be taken seriously.

The null hypothesis can be thought of as a *nullifiable *hypothesis. That means you can nullify it, or reject it. What happens if you reject the null hypothesis? It gets replaced with the which is what you think might actually be true about a situation. For example, let’s say you think that a certain drug might be responsible for a spate of recent heart attacks. The drug company thinks the drug is safe. The null hypothesis is always the accepted hypothesis; in this example, the drug is on the market, people are using it, and it’s generally accepted to be safe. Therefore, the null hypothesis is that the drug is safe. The alternate hypothesis — the one you want to replace the null hypothesis, is that the drug *isn’t* safe. Rejecting the null hypothesis in this case means that you will have to prove that the drug is not safe.

The null hypothesis, H_{0} is the commonly accepted fact; it is the opposite of the . Researchers work to reject, nullify or disprove the null hypothesis. Researchers come up with an alternate hypothesis, one that they think explains a phenomenon, and then work to .

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