Let's get this thread back on track with civil discussion, please.

I saw mention of the null hypothesis in the thread? Could someone link me to a source with an example + explanation of the null hypothesis, something that is approachable for someone that's not read about it before and is a little new to it? I'd be grateful; I'm actually surprised I have not read about the null hypothesis before.

The

wiki article is a decent overview although it dives into some somewhat technical statistics.

In essence the null hypothesis is something that someone is trying to disprove; it's a negative rather than positive approach where someone succeeds by proving something is wrong as opposed to proving that something is right. As a general rule it's set up opposite of what is known as the "alternative hypothesis", which is what someone is trying to prove.

The approach taken when conducting a study is normally this; I have an opinion or theory that I want to prove, for example that the reason I keep losing socks is that a cat sneaks into my room and takes them. I set up a high-tech cat detection system and record the data, seeing if a cat sneaking in corresponds with the rate of sock loss. But, whatever information I record and whatever it seems to indicate, it may be simple chance that I keep losing socks whenever the cat sneaks in. I have to

*prove* that this isn't the case and thus I set up a null hypothesis;

Null hypothesis: the loss of my socks is nothing to do with a cat sneaking in and taking them.

Alternative hypothesis: the loss of my socks is due to the cat sneaking in and taking them.

I can support and prove the alternative hypothesis once I have disproven the null hypothesis... once I have shown that there is some relation between the cat sneaking in and taking socks and my socks disappearing.