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You describe only a part of science. In addition to testing hypotheses, scientists spend an lot amount of time developing hypotheses. In fact, they probably spend more time developing hypotheses than testing them. They tinker around in a lab trying various things, and they search for better mental models so that their thinking becomes more effective. A major class of breakthrough for a scientist is to make a realization of the form, "A looks an awful lot like B".

If you don't want to waste ten years, spend some time on hypothesis development. That's not outside of science, but a core part of it.