Theory

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A '''scientific theory''', as defined by Kevin Padian in his testimony in the [[Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District]] trial, is
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{{wikipedia|color=#FDF7DE;}}
{{Quote-source|A theory, in science, [...] means a very large body of information that's withstood a lot of testing. It probably consists of a number of different hypotheses, many different lines of evidence. And it's something that is very difficult to slay with an ugly fact, as [[Thomas Henry Huxley|Huxley]] once put it, because it's just a complex body of work that's been worked on through time.|[http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day9am.html#day9am455 Kitzmiller v. Dover trial transcript, day 9, a.m. session]}}
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{{wiktionary|theory|color=#FDF7DE;}}
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In common parlance, a '''theory''' is a hunch or guess about something (e.g., "I have a theory that my teacher is an alien"). In [[science]], however, a theory is an explanation of a set of [[observation]]s that has been tested and found to be well-supported by [[evidence]] (e.g., "the [[theory of relativity]]"). The common usage of the word ''theory'' is closer in meaning to ''[[hypothesis]]'' in science: a plausible (or possible) explanation.
  
In common parlance, "theory" is roughly equivalent to "hunch" or "guess". But in science, a theory is a well-supported explanation. The common usage of the word "theory" is closer in meaning to the scientific use of the word "hypothesis". In science, a hypothesis is an idea about something that seems probable, while a theory has been tested and is supported by evidence.  
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The distinction between a theory and a hypothesis (or even a guess) is an important one, and ignoring it leads to the kind of [[equivocation]] in [[apologetics]] exemplified by the claim that "[[evolution is only a theory]]".
  
==See also==
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As defined by [[Wikipedia:Kevin Padian|Kevin Padian]] in his testimony in the [[Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District]] trial:
* [[Evolution is only a theory]]
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{{Quote-source|A theory, in science, [is] a very large body of information that's withstood a lot of testing. It probably consists of a number of different hypotheses, many different lines of evidence. And it's something that is very difficult to slay with an ugly fact, as [[Thomas Henry Huxley|Huxley]] once put it, because it's just a complex body of work that's been worked on through time.|[http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day9am.html#day9am455 Kitzmiller v. Dover trial transcript, day 9, a.m. session]}}
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{{Science}}
  
 
[[Category:Science]]
 
[[Category:Science]]

Latest revision as of 08:33, 19 December 2009

Wikipedia-logo-en.png
For more information, see the Wikipedia article:
Wiktionary-logo-en.png
For more information, see the Wiktionary article:

In common parlance, a theory is a hunch or guess about something (e.g., "I have a theory that my teacher is an alien"). In science, however, a theory is an explanation of a set of observations that has been tested and found to be well-supported by evidence (e.g., "the theory of relativity"). The common usage of the word theory is closer in meaning to hypothesis in science: a plausible (or possible) explanation.

The distinction between a theory and a hypothesis (or even a guess) is an important one, and ignoring it leads to the kind of equivocation in apologetics exemplified by the claim that "evolution is only a theory".

As defined by Kevin Padian in his testimony in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial:

"A theory, in science, [is] a very large body of information that's withstood a lot of testing. It probably consists of a number of different hypotheses, many different lines of evidence. And it's something that is very difficult to slay with an ugly fact, as Huxley once put it, because it's just a complex body of work that's been worked on through time."

Kitzmiller v. Dover trial transcript, day 9, a.m. session


v · d Science
v · d General science
Scientific method   Scientific theory · Hypothesis · Evidence · Examining claims · Skepticism
Scientific Disciplines   Physics · Biology · Chemistry · Psychology · Medical Science · Mathematics
History of science   Heliocentrism · Quantum mechanics
Champions of reason   Carl Sagan · James Randi
v · d Biology
Evolution   Natural selection
Abiogenesis   The Urey-Miller experiment
Evolutionary straw men   Life just exploded from nothing · So you think we came from monkeys · How did the first dog find a mate · Crocoducks · Banana argument · 747 Junkyard argument · Irreducible complexity · Chuck Missler's jar of peanut butter · What good is half a wing?
Notable Biologists   Charles Darwin · Richard Dawkins · PZ Myers
Notable quacks   William Dembski · Michael Behe · Geoffrey Simmons · Ken Ham · Michael Cremo
v · d Physics
Concepts   Cosmology · Big bang · Relativity theory · Black holes · Quantum mechanics
Physics straw men   Fine-tuning argument · Anthropic principle
Notable Physicists   Isaac Newton · Albert Einstein · Richard Feynman · Stephen Hawking
Notable Quacks   Dinesh D'Souza · Ray Comfort
v · d Mathematics
Statistics   Sample size · Selection bias · Data mining · Standard divination · Statistical significance · Statistical probability · Meta probability · Gambler's fallacy
Mathematics and religion   Biblical value of pi
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