Scientific Theory

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Meaning

A Scientific Theory is a model or framework for describing the behavior of a related set of natural or social phenomena. It originates from, and is supported by experimental evidence (see Scientific Method). A Scientific Theory is meant to be a formalized expression of all related accepted scientific evidence up to the point of its creation. A Scientific Theory must be falsifiable, and thus is treated as fact only for the period in which its truthfulness is not disputed with repeatable observations.

Theory vs. Scientific Theory

- Unlike the use of 'theory' in common speech, a Scientific Theory does not represent an unsubstantiated guess, but instead a well-supported and accepted model. A Scientific Hypothesis is more closely related to the common usage of 'theory'. A Scientific Hypothesis typically deals with much more specific sets of phenomena or specific applications of a theory. Many supported hypotheses go into the development and support of a theory.[1]

Scientific Laws

A widely accepted scientific model which is seems absolute, and has never been disproved by repeatable observations is considered a Scientific Law. Examples of Scientific Laws include Boyle's Law, Evolution (change in allele frequency over time), and the conservation laws in classical mechanics. Laws are typically a single mathematical equation, and provide the foundation for problem solving in the Natural Sciences.
  1. Merriam-Webster definition of "Scientific method"