Everyday Theory: A Contemporary Reader by Becky McLaughlin
Fact vs. Theory vs. Hypothesis vs. Law… EXPLAINED!
A scientific theory is an explanation of an aspect of the natural world that can be repeatedly tested and verified in accordance with the scientific method , using accepted protocols of observation , measurement, and evaluation of results. Where possible, theories are tested under controlled conditions in an experiment. Established scientific theories have withstood rigorous scrutiny and embody scientific knowledge.
Using some common terms carefully and accurately in scientific speech and writing
As we begin our discussions for the term, I would like students to be very clear about how the usage of some common terms is different in everyday speech and in science. These differences, which I will explain below, are the source of a great deal of confusion when scientists speak to non-scientists, and even when scientists move from "scientific speech" to everyday conversations. Being aware of these differences and taking the trouble to use words carefully can reduce this confusion in our own thinking as well as in communicating with others. In this course, I will expect everyone to learn these differences and use terms correctly in class, in posts on the discussion board and in the assignments. What "theory" means in ordinary speech: The term "theory" means a very different thing when used in everyday conversation and in science.
Part of the Darwin exhibition. In everyday use, the word "theory" often means an untested hunch, or a guess without supporting evidence. But for scientists, a theory has nearly the opposite meaning. A theory is a well-substantiated explanation of an aspect of the natural world that can incorporate laws, hypotheses and facts. The theory of gravitation, for instance, explains why apples fall from trees and astronauts float in space. Similarly, the theory of evolution explains why so many plants and animals--some very similar and some very different--exist on Earth now and in the past, as revealed by the fossil record.
These scientific words get bandied about regularly, yet the general public usually gets their meaning wrong. Now, one scientist is arguing that people should do away with these misunderstood words altogether and replace them with the word "model. It means we need better scientific education. From "theory" to "significant," here are seven scientific words that are often misused. The general public so widely misuses the words hypothesis , theory and law that scientists should stop using these terms, writes physicist Rhett Allain of Southeastern Louisiana University, in a blog post on Wired Science. A hypothesis is a proposed explanation for something that can actually be tested.
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.
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A theory is a contemplative and rational type of abstract or generalizing thinking about a phenomenon , or the results of such thinking. The process of contemplative and rational thinking often is associated with such processes like observational study , research. Theories may either be scientific or other than scientific or scientific to less extent. Depending on the context, the results might, for example, include generalized explanations of how nature works. The word has its roots in ancient Greek , but in modern use it has taken on several related meanings. In modern science , the term "theory" refers to scientific theories , a well-confirmed type of explanation of nature , made in a way consistent with scientific method , and fulfilling the criteria required by modern science.