It’s Time to Play: What’s…My…Hypothesis!

This could be fun.

First of all, what is a hypothesis? The traditional definition of a hypothesis is–an educated guess; or a guess made upon observations. A theory, on the other hand is also known as a ‘hypothesis that has grown up’. A theory is much more than a guess. A theory has behind it not only observation but much testing and statistical data. For a theory to become fact the data must go through significant and extensive review. The data must be tested by other experts in the same field. The numbers must be crunched in an unbiased manner. In the scientific world, even after a theory has become fact it is always subject to further testing and review as new data is discovered. Contrary to what you may have heard about a certain global climate theory, the science and scrutiny is NEVER done. Fine; so back to What’s…My…Hypothesis.

Here’s how we play. Send me (see address below) your birding/natural history hypothesis. Based upon your observations and deductive reasoning, share your hypothesis or hypotheses (plural). Feel free to copy the template below and paste it into an email. Your hypothesis can be very brief and based solely upon something you have observed or even just wondered about.

Here are a couple of examples:

Hypothesis #1:

This what I have observed: Whenever I find a mixed flock of birds, there always seems to be a woodcreeper moving about and calling somewhere in the middle of that mixed flock.

This my hypothesis: Different species of birds often flock together in a loose affiliation. I believe they flock, both above and below a woodcreeper, because woodcreepers are both active and noisy and make for an obvious target around which to flock.

Hypothesis #2:

This is what I have observed: Leaf-cutter ants will travel relatively great distances to harvest leaves from citrus trees.

This is my hypothesis: Chemicals or odors found in citrus leaves could serve as a deterrent to unwanted pests down in the Leaf-cutter Ant nest. Or maybe they just make the place smell better, like one of the things you hang on the rearview mirror of your car.

Have fun with this. I will post some of the more interesting hypotheses on this website in the coming days. Who knows? Maybe your hypothesis will some day grow up to become an actual THEORY!

Please keep your observations to natural history topics, birding if possible. Here is the template:

This is what I have observed:

This is my hypothesis:

Send to:

Streak-headed Woodcreeper, courtesy of Jo Davidson