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Just a Theory

Posted on 2014.06.19 at 15:08
Current Location: 75941

There's a fantastic article out there entitled, 10 Scientific Ideas That Scientists Wish You Would Stop Misusing which I run into all the time when trying to explain how science works from a layman's point of view to other non-scientists. Often, my explanations are met with incredulity as they may butt up against belief systems which nullifying data.

My favorite are the top two, "Proof" and "Theory." Most people understand that gravity is a theory, yet gravity is not hotly debated because it has no monetary impact. Mention climate change however, and all of a sudden deniers (I love that word) announce its only a theory and smugly conclude science is a political agenda.

Scientific theories are entire systems of testable ideas which are potentially refutable either by the evidence at hand or an experiment that somebody could perform. The best theories (in which I include special relativity, quantum mechanics, and evolution) have withstood a hundred years or more of challenges, either from people who want to prove themselves smarter than Einstein, or from people who don't like metaphysical challenges to their world view.

It continues to surprise me how many people prefer to believe untruths than to change their opinion based on new evidence. I can't imagine living in such manner, or even what motivates people to do so, and to date no one has been able to explain to my why.

Also? I view the counter-article “10 Scientific Ideas That Scientists Wish You Would Stop Misusing” Article Is Either Wrong or Needs Clarification contextually superfluous.

Comments:


Michelle1963
michelle1963 at 2014-06-20 00:38 (UTC) (Link)
Because people have had a smattering of science education but have failed to grasp the concepts, they often mistake the word theory to mean hypothesis. A hypothesis is an educated guess that needs to undergo scientific testing, while a theory has already undergone rigorous testing, all the facts as we know them are supported by the theory and no one has been able to disprove the theory.

The climate change deniers are scientifically ignorant. A theory is a very powerful concept. When they say, "oh well, it's just a theory," despite trying to make it sound negligible, they are in fact stating, "oh well, all the evidence as we know it supports climate change."
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