Do you have a theory about this couple?
“My theory on why she doesn’t want to go out with him any more is that he won’t let her see her friends.” While that might be why she doesn’t want to go out with him, the idea is not a theory. In common speech, the word theory is often misused. It is sometimes misused when referring to scientific ideas as well. What would be a better word to use?
Scientists seek evidence that supports or refutes a hypothesis. If there is no significant evidence to refute the hypothesis and there is an enormous amount of evidence to support it, the idea is accepted. It may become a theory.
A scientific theory is strongly supported by many different lines of evidence. A theory has no major inconsistencies. A theory must be constantly tested and revised. A theory provides an explanation of reality that is supported by evidence. Scientists can use a theory to offer reliable explanations and make accurate predictions.
A theory can be revised or thrown out if conflicting data are discovered. However, a longstanding theory that has lots of evidence to back it up is less likely to be overthrown than a newer theory. But science does not prove anything beyond a shadow of a doubt.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy only appears to defy gravity.
- theory: A hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been repeatedly tested and supported by data. A theory has no significant evidence against it. A theory is testable and falsifiable.
- A theory tells why something happens.
- A theory can be used to predict future events.
- A theory is supported by overwhelming evidence.
1. Compare and contrast hypothesis and theory.