What Is a Falsifiable Hypothesis?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 31, 2020 7:18:40 AM ET

A falsifiable hypothesis is a proposed explanation for an event or occurrence that can be proven false. The falsifiability of a hypothesis requires that the statement can be refuted based on a scientific and observable investigation.

The quality of a hypothesis subject to falsification is an essential part of any scientific experiment. Prior to proving a scientific theory, a hypothesis must be formulated. There are many forms of hypotheses, and tests may be conducted to determine if the hypothesis is right or wrong. Scientific standards require that the hypothesis must be not only testable but also falsifiable.

An example of a hypothesis that is not falsifiable is an educated guess that there are no other human life forms in the universe apart from those on Earth. This hypothesis can be tested through several methods to prove that the statement is true. One proof that the hypothesis is true is when a team of astronauts or a remotely operated probe sent to space found life forms in the galaxy. Another proof is if radio signals sent to outer space will be returned to Earth by aliens, or if these aliens land on the planet to make contact with human beings. However, there is no absolute way to determine that the hypothesis is false; there is no test to prove that life forms don't exist outside of Earth.

A good example of a falsifiable hypothesis is the statement that all swans are white. Although most swans are white in color, finding just one swan that has black feathers will prove the hypothesis false.

In scientific experiments, it is not important that the hypothesis cannot be proven true. What is more essential is that the hypothesis can be tested and proven false.