Author Topic: The word ''theory'' in science  (Read 538 times)

The word ''theory'' in science
« on: March 03, 2021, 04:45:10 AM »
Mike Cl and I were discussing this in another thread, but I thought this should be it's own thread.

The word theory in science means a fact, or facts, or is an explanation of facts? Mike said that, in the scientific sense, theory and fact are the same thing, but another contact of mine disagrees, and instead normally stresses that scientific theories are EXPLANATIONS of scientific FACTS.

How do folks here think we (and by ''we'' I mean all of us) can settle this matter?
« Last Edit: March 03, 2021, 04:46:41 AM by Paolo »

Offline aitm

Re: The word ''theory'' in science
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2021, 06:30:27 AM »
Goggle: scientific theory. Simple
A humans desire to live is exceeded only by their willingness to die for another. Even god cannot equal this magnificent sacrifice. No god has the right to judge them.-first tenant of the Panotheust

Re: The word ''theory'' in science
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2021, 08:25:08 AM »
Conspiracy theories aren't theories. They're unsubstantiated claims. They're powered by anger, bias, hate, and confusion that causes distress.
We 'new atheists' have a reputation for being militant, but make no mistake  we didn't start this war. If you want to place blame put it on the the religious zealots who have been poisoning the minds of the  young for a long long time."
PZ Myers

Re: The word ''theory'' in science
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2021, 08:48:03 AM »
What Is a Scientific Theory?

https://www.livescience.com/21491-what-is-a-scientific-theory-definition-of-theory.html

"The way that scientists use the word 'theory' is a little different than how it is commonly used in the lay public," said Jaime Tanner, a professor of biology at Marlboro College. "Most people use the word 'theory' to mean an idea or hunch that someone has, but in science the word 'theory' refers to the way that we interpret facts."

The process of becoming a scientific theory
Every scientific theory starts as a hypothesis. A scientific hypothesis is a suggested solution for an unexplained occurrence that doesn't fit into a currently accepted scientific theory. In other words, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a hypothesis is an idea that hasn't been proven yet. If enough evidence accumulates to support a hypothesis, it moves to the next step — known as a theory — in the scientific method and becomes accepted as a valid explanation of a phenomenon. "
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Re: The word ''theory'' in science
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2021, 08:51:48 AM »
Steps of the Scientific Method:
1. Ask a Question
The scientific method starts when you ask a question about something that you observe: How, What, When, Who, Which, Why, or Where?

2. Do Background Research
Rather than starting from scratch in putting together a plan for answering your question, you want to be a savvy scientist using library and Internet research to help you find the best way to do things and ensure that you don't repeat mistakes from the past.

3. Construct a Hypothesis
A hypothesis is an educated guess about how things work. It is an attempt to answer your question with an explanation that can be tested. A good hypothesis allows you to then make a prediction:
"If _____[I do this] _____, then _____[this]_____ will happen."

State both your hypothesis and the resulting prediction you will be testing. Predictions must be easy to measure.

4. Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
Your experiment tests whether your prediction is accurate and thus your hypothesis is supported or not. It is important for your experiment to be a fair test. You conduct a fair test by making sure that you change only one factor at a time while keeping all other conditions the same.
You should also repeat your experiments several times to make sure that the first results weren't just an accident.

5. Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
Once your experiment is complete, you collect your measurements and analyze them to see if they support your hypothesis or not.

Scientists often find that their predictions were not accurate and their hypothesis was not supported, and in such cases they will communicate the results of their experiment and then go back and construct a new hypothesis and prediction based on the information they learned during their experiment. This starts much of the process of the scientific method over again. Even if they find that their hypothesis was supported, they may want to test it again in a new way.

Conclusions
6. Communicate Your Results
To complete your science fair project you will communicate your results to others in a final report and/or a display board. Professional scientists do almost exactly the same thing by publishing their final report in a scientific journal or by presenting their results on a poster or during a talk at a scientific meeting. In a science fair, judges are interested in your findings regardless of whether or not they support your original hypothesis.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Re: The word ''theory'' in science
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2021, 08:56:45 AM »
Mike Cl and I were discussing this in another thread, but I thought this should be it's own thread.

The word theory in science means a fact, or facts, or is an explanation of facts? Mike said that, in the scientific sense, theory and fact are the same thing, but another contact of mine disagrees, and instead normally stresses that scientific theories are EXPLANATIONS of scientific FACTS.

How do folks here think we (and by ''we'' I mean all of us) can settle this matter?
Without the 'facts' the explanations would simply be conjecture--or a hypothesis.  A scientific explanation (whether theory or not--some hypothesis end up being not true, based upon the scientific method) explains what the facts are and how they can be stated as such.  The explanations are based upon the truth or untruth of a hypothesis.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Online Hydra009

Re: The word ''theory'' in science
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2021, 11:23:41 AM »
The word theory in science means a fact, or facts, or is an explanation of facts? Mike said that, in the scientific sense, theory and fact are the same thing, but another contact of mine disagrees, and instead normally stresses that scientific theories are EXPLANATIONS of scientific FACTS.
Scientific theories are essentially models that explain facts.  I cannot stress enough how important they are in science, because they allow scientists to make sense of data and make predictions.

Scientific theories are not guesses, nor do they graduate to become facts.  So one should not confuse the colloquial word theory (a guess/hunch) with scientific theory, which is a completely different term.  Creationists exploited this linguistic similarity to assert that scientific theories are inherently shaky and "unproven".  This is a deliberate misunderstanding as part of a political campaign to discredit and diminish science in the eyes of the people - a campaign still active today.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2021, 11:29:59 AM by Hydra009 »

Re: The word ''theory'' in science
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2021, 12:28:41 PM »
Scientific theories are essentially models that explain facts.  I cannot stress enough how important they are in science, because they allow scientists to make sense of data and make predictions.

Scientific theories are not guesses, nor do they graduate to become facts.  So one should not confuse the colloquial word theory (a guess/hunch) with scientific theory, which is a completely different term.  Creationists exploited this linguistic similarity to assert that scientific theories are inherently shaky and "unproven".  This is a deliberate misunderstanding as part of a political campaign to discredit and diminish science in the eyes of the people - a campaign still active today.

The misuse of the word "theory" by Creationists is proof that they are not scientists. If they were real scientists, they would be proposing an alternative theory, which they've yet to do, rather than trying to discredit evolution as "just a theory." Evolution is "just a theory" that just has no competition.
"Oh, wearisome condition of humanity,
Born under one law, to another bound;
Vainly begot, and yet forbidden vanity,
Created sick, commanded to be sound."
--Fulke Greville

Offline PopeyesPappy

Re: The word ''theory'' in science
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2021, 03:30:16 PM »
Mike Cl and I were discussing this in another thread, but I thought this should be it's own thread.

The word theory in science means a fact, or facts, or is an explanation of facts? Mike said that, in the scientific sense, theory and fact are the same thing, but another contact of mine disagrees, and instead normally stresses that scientific theories are EXPLANATIONS of scientific FACTS.

How do folks here think we (and by ''we'' I mean all of us) can settle this matter?

Theories are not facts. Theories are explanations of observations. It is the observations that are facts.
Save a life. Adopt a Greyhound.


Re: The word ''theory'' in science
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2021, 04:12:55 PM »
Theories are not facts. Theories are explanations of observations. It is the observations that are facts.

My wording might have not been exact, but Google more than backs me up on this. After a little more research, I found this: ''A theory is a proposed explanation of something. ... This is because one sense of “theory” is “speculation.” However, in scientific writing, it means the complete opposite of this. https://getproofed.com/writing-tips/hypothesis-theory-scientific-language/

The opposite of ''speculation'' is ''fact''. So it is not entirely wrong to say that (scientific) theories are facts, although it is, I admit, little more than a semantic issue.

Offline PopeyesPappy

Re: The word ''theory'' in science
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2021, 04:27:29 PM »
My wording might have not been exact, but Google more than backs me up on this. After a little more research, I found this: ''A theory is a proposed explanation of something. ... This is because one sense of “theory” is “speculation.” However, in scientific writing, it means the complete opposite of this. https://getproofed.com/writing-tips/hypothesis-theory-scientific-language/

The opposite of ''speculation'' is ''fact''. So it is not entirely wrong to say that (scientific) theories are facts, although it is, I admit, little more than a semantic issue.

It isn't a semantics issue. Theories are not facts. Theories change. Facts do not. Evolution is a fact. It has been observed over and over again. The theory of evolution is a different story. It is constantly evolving itself. New observations are made and the theory is modified in light of new facts.
Save a life. Adopt a Greyhound.


Re: The word ''theory'' in science
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2021, 04:52:33 PM »
My wording might have not been exact, but Google more than backs me up on this. After a little more research, I found this: ''A theory is a proposed explanation of something. ... This is because one sense of “theory” is “speculation.” However, in scientific writing, it means the complete opposite of this. https://getproofed.com/writing-tips/hypothesis-theory-scientific-language/

The opposite of ''speculation'' is ''fact''. So it is not entirely wrong to say that (scientific) theories are facts, although it is, I admit, little more than a semantic issue.

Not exactly. Scientific theories are the opposite of speculation because they're based on facts, whereas the common use of the word "theory" is either baseless or built on shaky logic. Contrary to popular belief, a theory is never graduated to the state of a law once it is proven. A theory can never been proven; it can only be supported. The theory of evolution has roots in just about every field of science, including medicine and psychology, so it's as close as a theory can get to proven, but it never will be 100% proven. Hypothetically, someone could come along with a better theory, but that's very unlikely.
"Oh, wearisome condition of humanity,
Born under one law, to another bound;
Vainly begot, and yet forbidden vanity,
Created sick, commanded to be sound."
--Fulke Greville

Online Hydra009

Re: The word ''theory'' in science
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2021, 05:01:07 PM »
My wording might have not been exact, but Google more than backs me up on this.

Re: The word ''theory'' in science
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2021, 06:00:01 PM »


Your friend from the moderation seems to be fond of Google as well!  :winkle:
« Last Edit: March 03, 2021, 06:06:41 PM by Paolo »

Re: The word ''theory'' in science
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2021, 06:45:23 PM »
Not exactly. Scientific theories are the opposite of speculation because they're based on facts, whereas the common use of the word "theory" is either baseless or built on shaky logic.

I have to admit that's a good point I should consider.