The null hypothesis is science’s first and last line of defense against one of the most terrifying properties of the human mind: the capacity to find patterns. Our pattern-matching ability is innate. We are the species whose niche is anything we can adapt to ourselves, and that facility for adaptation is built in part on our capacity to recognize patterns such as “when food sits in fire, its texture changes and it becomes easier to eat, until it burns.”
Like Philip K. Dick said, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”Jonathan Korman:
Of course, as a modern Hermeticist I am cultivating specific pattern illusions which I find help me live the life that suits meWarning: JK is a synthesist so that anything you read about modern Hermeticism probably does not apply. As usual for most mentioned on this blog johnbigbootie's One person Religion is about the best you can do.
At almost any level of living beliefs allow us to function in common situations without having to really think about how we will react. If a young woman sees a man leering at her her belief that he is a rapist is quite functional and she can take appropriate actions to eliminate the danger to her person. Once she is safe it might be useful to examine her belief that the particular instance might have some prejudicial component and the null hypothesis that not all X are rapists could be useful in managing her prejudice. But at some point the law of diminishing returns becomes important and the belief that all strange men are rapists may be functional.
When I was learning to drive my instructor taught me to believe that all other drivers on the road were either drunk or crazy and my job as a driver was to make sure none of them could get close enough to my car to cause damage. The null hypothesis that not all drivers on the road are drunk or crazy is a waste of time as keeping a safe space is reasonable in any case.
Where beliefs become dysfunctional and should be tested against a null hypothesis are the "Everyone knows" or "It is just common sense" to believe Y. Even then if "Everyone" in "Everyone knows" is the tribe, sect, or gang one is a member of, challenging Y against the null hypothesis may be hazardous to ones mental health at least. But for those with an intelligent support group like a university or STEM community the null hypothesis is the path to intellectual growth and learning.