This definition isn't consistent with other usage here, since other pages refer to the "Theory of Evolution" for example. Or look at Global warming which talks about "The theory that we are currently in a period of rapid climate change consisting of increasing temperature". But the definition of "Theory" here is "A hypothesis that has been tested with a significant amount of data, for which a sufficient amount of evidence (and a lack of disconfirming evidence) has been found that it would be perverse to withhold assent." So to call global warming a "theory" in this sense would be to say that it would be perverse not to agree! Something wrong here .... Bwilliston 02:14, 10 March 2007 (EST)
How can one state that evolution is a good theory on a website that accepts bibilican creation as fact?
This very website has been popularly quoted because it accepts the true, Biblical origin of species on this planet. If this really is a conservative knowledgebase, is it not reasonable to present the conservative view on a subject, given that there are many reputable conservative creation scientists that agree with my work as I presented it? My edit should be reinstated, in line with the philosophy of this website.--BillOReillyFan 21:52, 14 March 2007 (EDT)
- It was not a comment meant in spite. The common belief amongst Christian scientists is that Evolution is a poor theory based on misinformation and assumption. There are many reputable Christian scientists who will agree. Since this is a conservative website, I figured the general consensus of conservative scientists would be appropriate, especially since this is how facts are represented elsewhere in this website. --BillOReillyFan 22:10, 14 March 2007 (EDT)
- Perhaps you should reference these "conservative scientists", and be sure that their degrees are in a relevant field of science (for example, a professor of physics is not a credible source on the subject of the theory of evolution). Merely asserting that "evolution is a poor theory based on misinformation and assumption" does not make it true, and asserting that such a view is held by "the general consensus of conservative scientists" does not make that claim factual either. As it is, getting information about the theory of evolution from Conservapedia is like getting information about responsible firearms usage from Gunguys.com. You are offering uninformed and demonstratably biased assertions as fact. Dimensio 12:04, 22 March 2007 (EDT)
Evolution is the accepted theory in the scientific community because it is a falsifiable theory. Something Creationism is not. Moreover, it is as valid as any other currently accepted scientific theory. ColinR 22:14, 14 March 2007 (EDT)
Evolution is a valid theory, and I know this. It is not a good theory though. I give it as an example of a theory that does not have a good solid base of fact into which it can support itself. The theory of the flying spaghetti monster is a valid theory also. it's just not a very good one. --BillOReillyFan 22:21, 14 March 2007 (EDT)
This article gives a definition of "theory" that differs sharply from common dictionaries, popular usage, and the rest of Conservapedia. Just one dubious reference is provided. If this is really a good definition, then there should be some citations to people who use the word this way. Otherwise, the article should be scrapped and rewritten to conform to common usage. RSchlafly 05:17, 25 March 2007 (EDT)
Now the article cites Wikipedia 3 times! It really needs an overhaul. RSchlafly 19:35, 25 March 2007 (EDT)
- How is that any different than citing Creationwiki that many or even more times? ColinRtalk 19:36, 25 March 2007 (EDT)
- Citing Creationwiki is worthless, except maybe for a sample of what creationists believe. RSchlafly 00:02, 26 March 2007 (EDT)
"Why are scientists pushy about their theories (opinions)." So hilariously bad, that it must be vandalism. Oh, and you forgot a question mark. --WOVcenter 03:34, 10 March 2007 (EST)
Yes, vandalism, or some sort of joke. "Everyone had a thermometer that measured differently, which is why we have two temperature scales; fahrenheit and celcius." Ha ha. Please revert. RSchlafly 03:48, 10 March 2007 (EST)
Theory v hunch
This article is still in bad shape. It is not true that there is any big difference between scientific and non-scientific usage of the word "theory". Scientists use the word to describe a hunch as much as non-scientists do. RSchlafly 12:47, 10 March 2007 (EST)
That's not necessarily true. Scientific "hunches" are known as hypotheses, and most hypotheses are disproved. Theories have corroborating evidence to suggest that they are accurate. --WOVcenter 13:34, 10 March 2007 (EST)
- No, you are not correct. If you were, then give me some citation backing you up. Show me some scientific paper that says, "That hypothesis might be good enough to be called a theory according to the layman's use of the word, it has not been proved accurate enough to be called a scientific theory." It doesn't happen. There are theories like String Theory that have not been confirmed at all. RSchlafly 17:02, 10 March 2007 (EST)
Actually RSchlafly the statement preceding yours is correct. Your demand regarding a scientific paper makes no sense; why would a scientist writing for an audience of other scientists ever make the statement you require? Next, the National Academy of Sciences, which has reasonable jurisdiction over basic scientific terminology, defines a theory as, "a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses." In other words, not a "hunch." String Theory moreover doesn't really apply, since many physicists such as Carlo Rovelli and Philip Anderson contest the validity of calling String Theory a theory at all. --WOVcenter 20:10, 20 March 2007 (EDT)
- I accept the NAS definition, but where is the proof that scientists use the term "theory" differently from others? They don't. A lot of physicists use the term "String Theory", if not all. Are you saying that they are wrong? Does the NAS say that they are wrong? The article promotes a phony distinction that is not recognized by the vast majority of scientists. RSchlafly 16:12, 24 March 2007 (EDT)
Theory v Scientific Theory
The Theory page seems to overlap with Scientific theory at least in intent, but the former takes a very different position on what the word "theory" means. In fact, it takes a position that makes other uses of the word here problematic. I made a note about that on Talk:Theory. Perhaps Theory could just redirect to this one? And it would be nice to see something here about how personal bias can lead to the word "theory" being attached to something that isn't really a theory at all (not falsifiable, for example, or having many inconsistencies that are overlooked because they contradict personal bias). Just because the word "theory" gets attached to something in common usage doesn't make it a theory. Bwilliston 14:05, 10 March 2007 (EST)
- Scrap the other page. It just adds to the confusion. Make it redirect here. RSchlafly 17:05, 10 March 2007 (EST)
The disputed section says that a common speech theory is different from a scientific theory, with the former being an "unsubstantiated guess" and the latter having to be "well-supported and accepted". My dictionaries don't say any of those things, and they don't reflect any popular or scientific usage to my knowledge. I'd be happy to use a dictionary definition, but if you want something else, then you should provide some support for it. RSchlafly 05:00, 25 March 2007 (EDT)
I propose replacing the definition in this article with one that conforms more closely to dictionaries and common usage. I suggest:
- A Scientific Theory is a model or framework for describing the behavior of a related set of natural or social phenomena. A theory is a plausible or consistent explanation; it becomes scientific when it is subjected to empirical scrutiny. A Scientific Theory must be falsifiable, meaning that there must be some way to do observations that might disprove the theory.
- A scientific theory does not necessarily have to have strong experimental support or accepted by the scientific community. Scientists often refer to untested theories and competing theories. Theories can be extremely well-confirmed, such as conservation of energy, or wildly speculative, such as String Theory. RSchlafly 18:14, 25 March 2007 (EDT)
Blocking and reverting
Why is my version of the article being reverted? I see no fault in it. If you wish to block it, I request that you please give reason.
Reason: Because you are a mindless liberal vandal. Oooooooo. Anything else? --<<-David R->> 22:59, 20 March 2007 (EDT)
I broke the existing entry into two paragraphs, and added mention of Scientific Laws. Sources still need to be cited (specifically for the first statement. Would the person who wrote the original article cite that?). Charliemc86 16:46, 21 March 2007 (CST)
I merged Theory with Scientific Theory, and rewrote. There was a lot of overlap and inconsistency. I tried to make it conform to dictionary and common usage of the term. RSchlafly 23:46, 26 March 2007 (EDT)
I am not sure about the point to this sentence: "However some scientists want the name of the idea String Theory to be changed as it does not fit with the scientific meaning of the word." NewScientist The reference just has one string theory critic (Krauss) who has used the term "string theory" in the past and now wants to change common terminology in order to further some evolutionist goal.
I was considering adding a paragraph on how evolution proselytizers are trying to promote a definition of "theory" that differs from common usage, but has not yet caught on. Krauss would be an example. In the current version of the article, I was just trying to describe how the term is used, not how it ought to be used. RSchlafly 12:04, 27 March 2007 (EDT)
I am also wondering about Letusratiocinate's comment, "Opinions and conjectures, not supported by definitions, shared understanding or usage". I tried to be consistent with dictionary definitions, such as , and with common usage. I can find citations as requested, but it would help if someone would explain here what is doubtful and need documentation. RSchlafly 12:26, 27 March 2007 (EDT)
Your edits were the height of inanity. Saying, "some people say this, but only because they're evolutionists," whatever that means, is asinine. It's an argument that contains its own refutation, and is thoroughly un-encyclopedic, uninformative, and worthless.-AmesGyo! 18:53, 28 March 2007 (EDT)
- I described a distinction that evolutionists make. Are you saying that the distinction does not exist? That it is not noteworthy? Or what? Please explain. RSchlafly 19:00, 28 March 2007 (EDT)
- You described a distinction and said that it's invalid because only "scientists" support it, who can't be trusted because they're scientists. If you don't see something wrong in that sentence, then you may be a lost cause. Setting that aside, isn't it true that we should care about what scientists mean when they say "theory" if they're the ones drafting the theory in the first place? Shouldn't we NOT care what random-guy-on-the-street things that "scientific theory" means?-AmesGyo! 19:04, 28 March 2007 (EDT)
- No, that is not what I said at all. I did not say that the distinction is invalid, and I didn't say that scientists can't be trusted. Yes, I do see something wrong with your sentence -- it is directly contrary to what I said! If you care so much about what those scientists are saying, then why did you delete the section? RSchlafly 19:20, 28 March 2007 (EDT)
- Your treatment of it implied that it was only the "evolutionists" (a false term to begin with) support the view that scientific theories are stronger entities than theories in modern parlance, which is wrong.-AmesGyo! 19:54, 28 March 2007 (EDT)
- So prove me prove. Find a non-evolutionist who makes the distinction I cited. RSchlafly 20:00, 28 March 2007 (EDT)
Any scientist! Find one who doesn't (and who's not a creation "scientist")! -AmesGyo! 20:05, 28 March 2007 (EDT)
- Just give me the URL. Otherwise, I'll put the section back in. RSchlafly 20:17, 28 March 2007 (EDT)
- Well, it's hard to find a real scientist who doesn't believe in evolution. Can you find a legit scientist who does NOT make the distinction? I think you should have the burden here. AmesGyo! 20:20, 28 March 2007 (EDT)
- That is a web site promoting evolution to the general public. I agree that sites like that sometimes make the distinction. You make my point. RSchlafly 20:49, 28 March 2007 (EDT)
- Thanks, Hoji.-AmesGyo! 20:58, 28 March 2007 (EDT)
My two cents
I couldn't stay away, so here it is.
Not meant pejoritively, the level of scientific education is not as high here as on WP, so I think this article will need some revision. Since no one has really come out and said it, this article is important not just for the info in it, but also because the definition somehow has become semantically linked to the evolution controversy. To make this an accurate entry, I propose that origin theories not be used as examples.
That being said, if we are not going to have a separate article on scientific method, then this one needs to clarify theory and hypothesis. It probably should also digress a little into Popper and Kuhn, unfortunately.
- I am about to post a revision. People here are advocating that the distinction between scientific and common usage be added, so I am doing that. I am trying to be accurate on who makes the distinction, and what the distinction is.
- I am not sure that Popper and Kuhn have much to do with the definition of a theory. They do relate to how theories get accepted and rejected. Maybe they belong in that Scientific Method article. RSchlafly 17:57, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
Avoiding the philosophers here would be helpful, certainly. I really think that we need to leave out the current examples in your revision. I don't really want to do the editing personally because i hate edit wars, but I'd love to comment on it here, and post edits with consensus. Thanks --PalMDtalk 18:07, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
Ok, that last edit about the common understanding of theory is just wrong, but it IS a matter of opinion, so there is certainly room for disagreement. However, it is OPINION, and should have no place here. That is why I think we should dispense with the examples. There is no need to have our opinions compete here...it's the wrong forum for that.--PalMDtalk 18:22, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
Okay, I took out this:
- The Theory of Evolution includes microevolution (change in allele frequency over time), which is well-confirmed, and the idea that there existed a universal common ancestor for all life on Earth, which remains controversial.
I am not sure what the problem is. Doesn't everyone agree that microevolution is well-confirmed? Hardly anyone claims that the universal common ancestor is a proved fact. Likely hypothesis maybe, but not well-confirmed. When the pro-evolution people say that evolution is a fact, they are talking about microevolution, not the existence of a universal common ancestor.
Where is the opinion? I am just describing definitions as they are used, not how I think the word should be defined. RSchlafly 18:32, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
I actually agree with you, mostly. I dont want to get into the single common ancestor discussion, but most scientists subscribe to some version of Evo in its entirety. That being said, I think that it is just inflammatory to use Evo or ID here as examples. I think if we need examples we could perhaps chose something less heated. The edit war would end, and references to other CP articles could be include.--PalMDtalk 18:37, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
- Agreed with Palmd. Thanks for playing nicely R.-AmesGyo! 19:30, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
- I also edited out "Evolutionists claim," for a lot of reasons. First, "evolutionists claim" is YEC weasel wording that is meaningless. The scientific usage of the term is defined by scientists, and it is defined as quoted below, end of story.-AmesGyo! 19:37, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
- You have made it incorrect. Scientists don't make that claim in a scientific context; only evolutionists do when promoting evolution. I have given references for it. Please dispute it on the Talk page before you make these changes. RSchlafly 20:15, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
In re your last edit: theory is also used to describe systems of thought that are extinct. Ether theory is still ether theory, it just isn't considered a valid theory anymore. Difficult linguistic problem.--PalMDtalk 19:48, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
I guess Im not sure what you mean, Rog. So-called evolutionists do not use the word theory any differently than any other scientists, and don't claim any different uses in different contexts. Your citation was your interpretation of a single newspaper article. --PalMDtalk 20:21, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
- Yes, I think that they do. Those promoting evolution describe a distinction that others do not recognize. I cited evidence. If something I said was wrong, then show me some evidence that I am wrong. Otherwise I will revert to my version.
- Also, AmesG asks, "ether theory was discounted years ago; why cite it, I wonder?" The answer is that it was cited as a theory that lacked evidence. Whether it is currently discounted is beside the point. RSchlafly 20:33, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
My point, sir, is that your citation wasn't evidence by any reasonable standard. Quote mining some random newspaper article is not useful. I can tell you from a scientists perspective (not using this as a citation obviously because it is a personal observation) that this point is absolutely obvious to most working scientists. --PalMDtalk 22:03, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
- I agree that the point is completely obvious, but please spell it out. Exactly where am I wrong, and can you cite any evidence? RSchlafly 22:35, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
Letusratiocinate entered some more dubious edits. He says a theory "might not yet be well verified". This is misleading, as it might never be well verified. He says "It is wise ...". Says who? This is just opinion. He says "before the theories become well confirmed". Again, they may never be confirmed. I see no merit to these edits. RSchlafly 12:48, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
- I'm reminded of the last line from the incredibly bad movie Plan Nine from Outer Space Which was "Can you prove it didn't happen?"
- The answer, of course is No. Just as one cannot prove that Iraq's massive stockpiles of WMD's weren't smuggled out of the country to Syria and Jordan. -- Crackertalk 13:05, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
Im not so sure the whole "common usage" section belongs at all, but does anyone think we should get rid of the not-too-clear examples that quote, of all things, TV shows?--PalMDtalk 13:08, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
- I restored a previous version that makes it more clear as to why it is there. RSchlafly 14:04, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
From various sources:
(Math) Theorem: a statement that has been proven.
(General) Theory: A reasoned explanation of known facts or phenomena that serves as a basis of investigation by which to seek the truth.
(General) Theory: A proposal for understanding the meaning of a term in relation to a set of scientifically useful hypotheses.
Roger! This is an article about THEORY, not what YOU think Evolutionary scientists have to say about theory. The above should be sufficient, and you should remove the irrelevencies that you reinserted and that are poorly supported.--PalMDtalk 14:20, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
- Stop yelling, we can hear you fine. You seem to be missing Roger's point (and it's my point too, if I may barge in).
- Supporters of the Theory of Evolution use the word theory in a particular way, by which they intend to make a distinction between a "fact" and a "theory".
- Opponents: Evolution is only a theory.
- Supporters: Evolution is a fact
- Sounds like two kids in the schoolyard: Is too! Is not!
- An adult would patiently explain what a theory is. Liberals, not being normal adults but nature-worshipping Druids (as Ann Coulter so gently puts it), are not adults. The moment you contradict them they start screaming. One reason I suggest you tone it down is that grown-ups don't listen to little screaming kids. (No offense meant.)
- Now, I suggest you give up arguing with Mr. Schlafly for the moment, and try explaining his ideas back to him. As Covey says, Seek first to understand, then to be understood. You'll never win an argument while your debate partner feels you don't 'get' what he's saying. And the audience will yawn or change the channel. --Ed Poor 14:31, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
Ok, a reasonable suggestion. I think one of the fundamental probs here is that (speaking as a scientist, not as a liberal or conservative) there really is no controversy in science, evolutionary or otherwise, about this term. That is not to say that in certain circles (ID, etc) the problem hasn't come up, I just don't think this is the place to hash it out. Evolutionary "theory" is equivalent linguistically to Electromagnetic "theory", even though only one uses calculus. Both are useful, predictive, falsifiable, and malleable. Sometimes in casual conversation, one might say, "My theory behind their divorce is that he was fooling around." This is not the way it is used by any scientists. They would call that a hypothesis. I think we are making a debate where there should be none. The debate should be moved to one of the Creationism related articles where it is more relevant.--PalMDtalk 14:47, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
- It is not what I THINK at all. I search for definitions and usage of "theory", and I find two. One used by those promoting Evolution, and one used by everyone else. I originally wanted to just put in one definition, but people kept putting in the second.
- I would be perfectly fine with Cracker's definition, if it is the only one given. But we would have to lock the page, and face steady complaints from people who want to see the other definition. Maybe the page will have to be locked anyway.
- As I said, if I am wrong, it should be really easy to prove me wrong. If anyone has good examples, please post them to the Talk page. RSchlafly 14:44, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
I just realized: it's the same thing as the "documentary" dispute at Wikipedia's great global warming hoax (talk page).
One editor refused to let the film be called "a documentary" because to him that word implied that it was not only non-fiction (i.e., it wasn't a drama like Hamlet) - but that it was TRUE. He was okay with called An Inconvenient Truth a documentary, though.
Likewise, evolution supporters bristle (foam?) at the idea of equating "a theory" with anything other than it is true, we know it is, and stop questioning it you anti-scientific moron (or words to that effect).
Yet the word theory simply means "an explanation". Such explanations can be correct, incorrect, or somewhere in between (i.e., they can be "good enough" or "rules of thumb").
A "scientific theory", perhaps, is one which can be tested and verified (or falsified). Which reminds me, when educators teach students about evolution, what sorts of conclusions do they draw from it which (if not found) could prove evolution wrong?
- If evolution is true, then we should see an example of natural selection in modern times.
- The peppered moth is an example of natural selection.
- If it turns out that no natural selection occurred in the case of the peppered moth, then (we are prepared to admit!) evolution is not true.
Do they dare to say this? Of course not. And they won't let any other conclusions be drawn from their hypothesis. Which is why opponents have branded evolution as pseudoscience. Pseudoscience, as I pointed out at Wikipedia, refuses to follow the 3nd & 4th steps of the four-part scientific method. --Ed Poor 14:42, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
- Ed, we do see natural selection, antibiotic resistance in bacteria due to genetic mutation. HIV mutation to allow for resistance to binding protein blockers. Sickle cell anemia in locations of the world where malaria is prevalent. Vestigial structures in animals and plants. Should I go on? --TimS 15:11, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
I agree with PalMD the peppered moth is over blown just because there are so much more to support TOE than a study performed before DNA was understood.--TimS 14:52, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
- "Controversial film" would be fine, but adding "documentary" gives undue weight 
Actually, for evolution to be falsifiable (and it is) we must be able to posit a phenomenon that is not explainable by evolution. See my stegasaurus bone example. The peppered moth thing is only one small example, and if another explanation is found that is non-evolutionary, then it taps away at the base of the theory, but alone has not yet destroyed it.--PalMDtalk 14:49, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
Where the controversy is - and what it's about
there really is no controversy in science, evolutionary or otherwise, about this term
This is a favorite line of liberals about science. Whether it's global warming, DDT, dioxins, secondhand smoke, or whatever, they always claim that scientists are not disputing the proposition. It's only you anti-scientific r's and c's.
I can't count how many fallacies are in this argument, but it starts with ad hominem of course. About on the level of, "Bush is an idiot."
More to the point, there is indeed a controversy in public discourse over what a theory is, and over whether evolution is a theory. There's also a controversy over whether the Theory of Evolution is correct. Supporters of Intelligent Design, rare though they may be, have advanced at least one argument against "Evolution through natural selection". No encyclopedia would be complete without presenting their argument, which centers on Irreducible complexity.
Now, I am not pressing any point. I'm certainly not arguing for or against either Evolution or ID on this page. I don't have time for that.
But I'm begging you all to be careful about how you use language. That's all. --Ed Poor 15:18, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
- Ok, this has nothing to do with ad hominem statements. It really is true that in the vast majority of th scientific community, the definition of theory is not an issue. I am not saying that those who disagree are nut-jobs, just not part of the vast majority of the scientific community. Of course in American culture, there is a HUGE controvery about Evolution vs ID, etc. and in the discourse of the ID partisans, this whole theory definition is an issue. That's why I think the discussion belongs in the IDish articles, not in the definition of theory.--PalMDtalk 15:25, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
- I would agree. Ed, we understand that you are on neither side of the TOE and ID debate. However, you are feeding into the argument. There is a major difference between the two thoughts. ID has yet to undergo any scientific research so to list this in the theory article detracts from the main point, as it stands the "theory of ID" is not a theory, it has not been allowed to be tested due to a lack of fundamental definition of what constitutes intelligence and how it could influence diversity.--TimS 15:33, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
Ed, as you have generally been a fairly moderate voice of reason, perhaps you can mediate a bit. THe whole "evolutionists promote this idea, see this NYT article" should go, as well as the rest of the little debate, and moved elsewhere (not deleted from CP). We should go with the simple definitions above. IMHO.--PalMDtalk 19:11, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
- Well, what does our scientific method article say about theories and explanations, hypotheses and falsifiablity, drawing corallary conclusions and testing them against observations?
- Do we have another creationist repeating the shameless lie that all who accept evolution as valid are "liberals?" Have creationists no shame? Dimensio 09:37, 3 April 2007
- A scientific theory is a model or framework for describing a related set of natural or social behaviors or observations.
This seems too restrictive to me. Anyway, it's unsourced. --Ed Poor 12:26, 9 April 2007 (EDT)