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After reading this question which asked:

Could this hypothesis of why we procrastinate be right?

I am very interested in procrastination, because it is such a clear sign of lack of motivation. I have a hypothesis about why we procrastinate, which I would like to get tested by you.

It seems to me that this is a very slippery slope. I suppose if the hypothesis is either already a generally accepted truth or is egregiously incorrect, then it's an objective question. But otherwise, the close reason "Not Constructive" would appear (to me) to apply very well:

not constructive

This question is not a good fit to our Q&A format. We expect answers to generally involve facts, references, or specific expertise; this question will likely solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion.

(Emphasis mine)

Should we allow "is my hypothesis correct" type questions?

UPDATE (Question has been edited, original version that inspired the question is below)

I am very interested in procrastination, because it is such a clear sign of lack of motivation. I have a hypothesis about why we procrastinate, which I would like to get tested by you.

The assumption for this hypothesis is that we are more likely to procrastinate on tasks, which we are not good at, or which does not yield a sufficiently large boost in status.

If this assumption is correct, then I believe that a group of people, where all members are able to do all tasks, would become more efficient if those group members who were less efficient at solving a task would procrastinate and never get it done, so it could get solved by someone who is better at it. Similarly, it would be good if the whole group procrastinate on tasks, which do not yield a sufficiently large boost in status, because this way the group can allocate more status to tasks that are more important and this way avoid having the members do tasks, which they just felt like doing.

  • @BenBrocka Please post that as an answer, so others can upvote you! – Josh Jan 23 '12 at 22:43
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    I feel they can be answered objectively, but I'm more worried about them being 'too localized'. "I have this hypothesis that people are happier when there are more bunnies in the world.", "I have this hypothesis that people are happier when there are more unicorns in the world." – Steven Jeuris Jan 23 '12 at 22:59
  • The referred 'question' contains in fact three questions "is procrastination greater when skill is low", "is procrastination greater when rewards offer low status boost" (implying only a certain type of reward), "does this lead to efficient task allocation in groups?". While each point would make a legit question, this should be asked separately. – Piotr Migdal Jan 24 '12 at 18:34
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A few issues that I see with the question that started this meta discussion:

  • It was not framed as a question. This is a question and answer site and I think questions should be framed as questions. The connection between an hypothesis and a research question is generally pretty close. I can hypothesise that X causes Y. Or I can ask the research question: Does X cause Y? It doesn't take much to improve a question by making the question explicit.
  • It was not grounded in a discussion of the existing literature on procrastination: I agree with Josh and Ben Brocka that evidence of prior research is important, especially where the idea seems novel.
  • The question makes a couple of assumptions, which are not themselves framed as questions: I.e., the original version states "The assumption for this hypothesis is that we are more likely to procrastinate on tasks, which we are not good at, or which does not yield a sufficiently large boost in status." I guess it is implicit that the question is asking whether these assumptions are valid; however, I think good questions tend to ask questions explicitly.

Can such questions be answered "objectively"?

  • Whether a question is framed as a direct question or as an implied question through a hypothesis shouldn't change whether it can be objectively answered.
  • I can think of various properties of questions that increase the ease with which they can be answered in a meaningful way:
    • can the variables be readily defined, operationalised, and measured?
    • Is the scope of the question sufficiently narrow to permit an answer, rather than a very long stream of contextual qualifications?

In the case of the question that inspired this post, the underlying questions could be scientifically assessed. There seems like there would be a bit of translation process of converting the language of the question into the language of a given scientific discipline, but I don't see that as a major problem.

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    I like this answer as it implies that "Is this hypothesis correct" questions could just be changed to "Does x do y?"... but depending on the hypothesis the answers may still be subjective... hmmm... further thought required! – Josh Jan 24 '12 at 0:47
  • okay. I've added a few more thoughts regarding answering questions objectively. – Jeromy Anglim Jan 24 '12 at 2:18
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    +1, emphasizing that such questions tend to mix question and answer parts (which is discouraged in the SE world). Moreover, they usually contain implicitly a few questions. – Piotr Migdal Jan 24 '12 at 18:25
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There can very well be objective evidence that supports or weakens a hypothesis.

I think we should allow this given that good proof of prior research is shown and we don't see a pattern emerging of these questions being problematic. As long as these questions are properly tagged we can watch their grown and act if they become a problem.

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    +1, given good proof of prior research is shown and also assuming the particular question doesn't generate disagreement. A lot will really be told by what kinds of these questions are actually asked. I fear there may be both objective evidence that supports and weakens some hypotheses, leading to debate. – Josh Jan 23 '12 at 22:48
  • Ce la science :) – Ben Brocka Jan 23 '12 at 22:53

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