Theory versus Hypothesis

I see a lot of people on here saying that "Oh, such and such is only a theory"... They seem to be getting theories and hypotheses confused.

A theory is a mostly proved collection of ideas that has some details that need to be worked out. Example: Gravity is still a Theory. We all agree that gravity exists, right?

A hypothesis is an idea that is yet to be proved that was devised based off of observance of trends from experimental or environmental data.

A theory starts as a collection of hypotheses. Once the central hypotheses of that collection are proved it becomes a theory.

There are a few cases where in general parlance something is mislabled as a theory... The most major example I can think of is "String Theory"... But "String Hypotheses" just hasn't got the same ring to it.

Adri "Is getting irritated by the ignorance on what a theory is" E. H.
Theories have significant portions that we know to be true... I like the example of the theory of gravity, because people tend not to get into religious arguments over it. We know the results of gravity, we know the physical principles of how it works, but there are good chunks of the why that are still currently being studied.

Hypotheses are predictions based off of evidence.

Question for the people who are posting on here along with what they say about the initial comment:

What is your education in? Field of study if you are currently at Uni, or what you studied when you were in Uni... If you aren't in Uni yet... I guess, what science classes you have taken would work...



A Darker Knight
I'm in the 11th grade. I've only taken Biology, Chemistry, and Physics (currently) as my science classes. aren't going to pull an Icy here on us are you?

cause I still remember. :-/
I'm not sure what you mean by pulling an Icy. I'm just trying to gage my responses to what people will have studied, it also tells me a little something about how frustrated I should be about all this... The thing is, so far, the people who have responded here aren't the people who have been doing the "Ooh it's just a theory, there is no real evidence" which is what was bugging me.

I think that we are sort of on the same page just looking at it a little differently cause I have a little bit more science background than you do... (I'm going to a math/science/tech college right now, and took a lot of science in high school)...



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I'm going to bring up the luminiferous aether, just to be difficult. :) A theory is predictively powerful model, or else one that is currently considered to be the best fit for the data. This is to say that it has either proven to be too useful to be abandoned as scientific orthodoxy, or else it has simply not yet been falsified. If a theory is not to be thought of as tentative, then where did the aether go, after all?

The evidence speaks for itself when it comes to e.g. the theory of evolution. No theory should be uncritically accepted, though, nor dismissed without doing the requisite research. If everyone were content to simply accept the scientific orthodoxy of their day, we would not have the theory of relativity, after all. Maybe we should concede that a theory is just a theory. It is far better to explain to someone why you believe something, than it is to expect them to accept it on good authority.

Granted, if someone seriously doesn't know the difference between a scientific theory and hypothesis, then it's defiantly a good idea to explain that a theory is not a hypothesis. That probably goes without saying, though?
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I'm mostly getting irritated at the people who have been saying "Oh evolution is just a theory it doesn't matter"... I know that not all theories end up being true, but most of them should at least be looked at with serious consideration of their validity, a lot of work has been put into proving them. And if they have stuck around for quite some time, they are probably at least partially valid. (Hey Maxwell's equations were figured out assuming luminiferous ether, and they still hold. Sometimes, you can work things out just fine, even if there is a fundamental flaw in a theory).