Okay, I understand that you used a
different meaning of the word. I assume then that your intent was to agree
with both Tim and I that String Theory is at present not truly a scientific
theory. However, when discussing a genuine scientific theory, such as
evolution or Cell Theory or Quantum Theory, definition four is the more
correct one to use. As I said putting the qualifier "only" in front of the
word theory when discussing a well-established scientific theory is typically
a tactic used by those who wish to dismiss a theory, such as evolution, as no
better than a hunch or guess or opinion. My point was that this is not what
scientists mean when they label an explanation as a theory. You are mistaken
that the scientific community is not settled on "any one particular
definition." There are some who do tend to use the word more loosely than the
rest of the scientific community. But there is a sizable consensus on the
definition. The wording of many is different but at their core they are
essentially the same. Here are a few selected from some science
Association for the Advancement of
A scientific theory is a
well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a
body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and
It refers to a comprehensive explanation of some
aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of
are explanations of natural phenomena built up logically from testable
observations and hypotheses.
National Center for
Theory: In science, a
well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can
incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested
Theories are inferred explanations of some aspect of
the natural world. Theories do not become laws even with additional evidence;
they explain laws. However, not all scientific laws have accompanying
I offer one more online source for your additional illumination about the term
theory as it is used by the general public compared to how the term is used by
trust you will read it. I also hope you read the previous one I sent. Just in
case here it is again: http://www.notjustatheory.com/
From: Mark R. Orel
To: [address removed]
Sent: Sunday, January 13,[masked]:57
[humanism-174] In "Garlic Man" We Trust :)
I'm afraid the
misunderstanding is on your part.
1. Contemplation, speculation.
The result of contemplation; hence, an analysis or
esp., an analysis of a set of facts in their
ideal relations to one another;
as, essays in theory.
3. The general or abstract principles of any body of facts
real or assumed;
pure as, distinguished from applied, science
or art; as the theory of music
or of medicine.
4. A general principle, formula, or ideal construction,
offered to explain phenomena
and rendered more or less
plausible by evidence in the facts or by the exactness
relevancy of the reasoning; as, Lavoisier's theory of combustion; Adam
theory of moral sentiments. In its most proper
acceptation, theory means the completed
philosophical induction from experience. - J.S. Mill.
5. A plan or scheme theoretically constructed.
6. A hypothesis offered as a basis of thought on a given
subject; loosely, any idea ,
guess, etc., put forward to be
accepted or rejected in seeking the explanation of
condition, occurrence, or the like.
Math. A body of theorems presenting a clear, rounded, and systematic
view of a
subject; as, the theory of probability.
- Webster's Second.
I used it as I intended and I used it correctly.
You are using
it the context of definition four.
I used in the context of
definitions two and three.
I will also say that the scientific
not seem to be settled on any one particular
On[masked]:13, Randy Pelton
of all your use of the phrase "only a theory" appears to reveal a
misunderstanding on your part. If it is a theory then what is meant by
saying it is "only a theory?" You seem to be implying that there is some
level within a hierarchy of scientific knowledge or knowledge in general to
which the idea has yet to rise. In science, theory is the pinnacle. Theories
in science are the BIG IDEAS. They are the explanations that are supported
by a broad and deep body of evidence, facts, and laws. A theory explains,
among other things, the relationship between a body of observations, laws,
facts and both experimental and theoretical evidence. There is no category
of scientific knowledge higher than a theory. Yet the phrase you use seems
to imply there is.
be careful with the use of this phrase. This phrase is most often used by
those whose intent is to dismiss a theory as no better than a guess or an
unfounded opinion someone might have. And this most certainly is not what a
all this said, it is unfortunate, IMO, that scientists call it String
Theory. At best it is a hypothesis. As Tim pointed out earlier, String
Theory is as of yet untested. None of its predictions have yet been
experimentally tested and therefore this so-called theory has no actual
verification. It is a very intriguing idea. And if it turns out to be
correct it will explain a number of observations that remain unexplained.
But this so-called theory still awaits some experimental verification.
If you need
further clarification and information on why it is misleading to refer to a
scientific theory in this way, I recommend reading Only
a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s
Soul written by biologist Kenneth Miller.
While the book is primarily about evolution, Miller tackles the
intentionally misleading use of the phrase "it's only a theory" offered up
by those who deny evolution. They often describe it as "just a theory" as
means of dismissing it as being no better than a hunch. You might also read
the short discussion of what is meant by scientists when they use the term
theory on the
As I said this was a quick and
simple description. I did leave
a great deal
out. Is there something more you would like to
As far as string theory goes, I did write, "If you like string
I hoped that implied it to be only a theory. But I
for the clarification.
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